Given the recentstories about Merrick Garland’s experience at the helm of the Oklahoma City bombing prosecution and his own comments about prosecuting white supremacists should he be made Attorney General, I have some questions about Garland’s handling of the OKC bombing case.
At an April 27, 1995 Preliminary Hearing, why did you “object” when defense attorneys noted that your witness, FBI agent Jon Hersley, testified that the Ryder truck carried “passengers” — plural? Your objection was overruled, and your witness confirmed that Timothy McVeigh was seated in the Ryder truck with another individual. Who is that individual?
You once said “we did everything we could to find every person who was involved.” If that’s true, then how do you explain the fact that every eyewitness you touted at the April 27th 1995 preliminary hearing never testified at the federal trials? Why didn’t these witnesses get to tell a jury what they saw? Why is it that the man seen with Timothy McVeigh in the Ryder truck has never been identified?
If Merrick Garland is truly dedicated to prosecuting dangerous white supremacists then he can show it by reopening the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing case and identifying and prosecuting Timothy McVeigh’s accomplices. I would not be alone in calling for the case to be re-opened. Danny Coulson, the FBI on-scene commander for the Oklahoma bomb site, agrees. In 2004, Coulson told John Solomon of the Associated Press that there are “some unanswered questions here. A lot of things happened that were inappropriate,” Coulson said. “I think it needs to be reopened, but I don’t think it should be reopened by the FBI. It needs to be a special investigator, a lawyer, totally independent. He needs to have subpoena power and the ability to use a grand jury.”
Danny Defenbaugh, then the retired chief of the FBI’s OKBOMB investigation agreed: “If I were still in the bureau, the investigation would be reopened” said Defenbaugh, commenting on new evidence that came to light almost a decade after the bombing. ”If the evidence is still there, then it should be checked out.”
Garland can kick off this effort by compelling the FBI to produce the surveillance camera footage that shows two men exiting the Ryder truck, and he can finish by apologizing for letting dangerous white supremacists get away with it for the last 25 years.
“How do 5 or 6 people see something and describe generally the same thing if it doesn’t exist?”
— Dan Vogel, FBI Special Agent, Oklahoma City Field Office
“If only one person had seen that, or two or three…but twenty-four? Twenty-four people say, yes I saw him [McVeigh] with somebody else? That’s pretty powerful.”
— Danny Coulson, former Deputy Assistant Director FBI, founder of FBI Hostage Rescue Team and Special Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas FBI Field Office in April 1995.
“My conclusion, after having interviewed these witnesses is that they did indeed see [John Doe #2]. And that in each of these sightings, he was with a man that they were clearly able to identify as Tim McVeigh”
— Jean Boylan, FBI Task Force Sketch Artist
By most contemporary accounts, the April 19th, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by two disgruntled far-right extremists: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. McVeigh was taken into custody by the FBI within days of the deadly attack, which killed 168 people and injured many more. Terry Nichols turned himself in to the police in Herington, Kansas, after hearing his name on the radio.
Terry Nichols’ brother, James Nichols, was briefly considered a suspect, and McVeigh army buddy Michael Fortier was an accomplice who later served as the prosecution’s star witness. The criminal conspiracy that resulted in the bombing of the Murrah federal building has largely been limited to the people named herein. However, at the time of the bombing, several additional suspects were sought by the FBI. Hundreds of press accounts document the FBI’s unsuccessful pursuit to identify, locate, and arrest the other suspects.
Perhaps the most well-known other suspect is a man dubbed “John Doe #2” by the FBI. Details about this suspect and the nationwide manhunt for him were plentiful in press reports after the bombing. Although only a small amount of information on this suspect emerged at the McVeigh and Nichols trials, there is a great deal more evidence about the suspect among the FBI 302 reports, teletypes, and memoranda generated during the FBI investigation.
The details concerning “John Doe #2” first emerged a day after the bombing, memorialized in a press conference where on-scene commander Weldon Kennedy distributed sketches. As the days went by, more details about the suspect would emerge in press reports, and Attorney General Janet Reno would announce upon Timothy McVeigh’s arrest that “John Doe #2” was still “at-large” and “considered armed, and extremely dangerous.”
Long after the McVeigh and Nichols trials, the suspect would remain an elusive figure: he was never captured, and the FBI even declared that the man simply did not exist. Though FBI documents from 2005 show that a decade after claiming the man nonexistent, the FBI was still very much “concerned” about the man’s identity.1FBI memorandum, FBI Denver Squad 12 to Director FBI, June 24, 2005. Obtained via FOIA by attorney Jesse Trentadue. The name of the agent who wrote the memo is redacted. Page 11 the agent writes that “DTOU expressed concern regarding John Doe #2’s name surfacing” — DTOU is the FBI’s Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit. Another document obtained via FOIA is an email from an FBI official that says “we share CTD’s concern regarding the John Doe #2 information.” The email sender’s name is redacted and the email is dated May 27, 2005. Both the memo and the email were generated at a time when Terry Nichols was being interviewed by Denver FBI agents in preparation for an upcoming interview with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Convicted bomber Terry Nichols expressed fear for his family’s life when he told the FBI in 2005 that he knew the man’s identity but would not reveal it out of fear for his family’s safety.2Ibid., 11. The June 24, 2005 memo says “Nichols declined to identify John Doe #2. Nichols advised John Doe #2’s name had not been mentioned during the investigation and, as a result, he feared for his and his family’s well being should it become public.” Who is this suspect? A man who has aroused fear and concern on the parts of the FBI and bomber Terry Nichols, his identity remains shrouded in mystery even 25 years later.
Mainstream media accounts relating to the bombing issued today make no mention of “John Doe #2,” or if they do, it is almost always erroneously reported that the man does not exist. However, this is incorrect, and the assertion is primarily based on a “mistaken identity” theory put forward by the FBI to “do away with” the suspect in the summer of 1995.3David Jackson and Lee Hancock, “Investigators Identify, Clear John Doe №2,” Dallas Morning News, June 15, 1995. Notes: this report is a good example of the FBI’s “misidentification” theory which would be used to explain away John Doe 2 in the days after June 15, 1995. The account says that “Oklahoma City bombing investigators now believe an innocent bystander at a truck rental agency is the so-called John Doe №2.” The report inaccurately says that “Todd Bunting, a soldier from Fort Riley, Kan. — resembles the sketch” — newspapers published Bunting’s photo with the story and there is no resemblance to the sketch. Confusing matters, this report quotes an official who said “We’re still looking for a second man.” Later reports will claim outright that Bunting was John Doe 2 and that all of the witnesses had at once been extremely accurate in their recollections of John Doe 1 (sketch looks identical to McVeigh), but fully inaccurate and wrong concerning John Doe 2. To understand the John Doe #2 story and subsequent “mistaken identity” explanation, we must examine the suspect’s origin and then scrutinize the circumstances by which he was declared a suspect.
John Doe #1 and John Doe #2 were labels used to describe the two unknown suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing, with sketches of both suspects distributed to media the day after the attack. The sketches of the suspects were produced as a direct result of simple police work. Oklahoma County Sheriff Sgt. Melvin Sumter recorded the crime scene when he came upon the remains of the Ryder truck’s rear axle.4Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), 83; Melvin Sumter VHS recording 4/19/95 provided to author. The truck’s VIN is visible on tape, with Sumter zooming-in and lingering on the VIN before he brought the axle to the attention of Jim Norman, an FBI agent at the crime scene. The FBI used the VIN, or vehicle identification number, to trace the Ryder truck to a rental agency. The truck was rented from Elliott’s Body Shop, located in Junction City, Kansas, where the FBI learned that two men picked up the truck on Monday, April 17th, 1995.
FBI agents descended upon the rental agency and interviewed employees and witnesses from the shop into the morning hours of April 20th. The employees/witnesses at the shop on April 17th include mechanic Fernando Ramos, receptionist Vicki Beemer, owner Eldon Elliott, and mechanic Tom Kessinger.5Ibid., 105–106. Ramos told the FBI that the two men had arrived at the body shop in a Jeep Grand Cherokee.6FBI Insert 174A-OC-56120 SubE-1507, April 23, 1995. SA Ronald Koziol, SA Jose Jiminez and Sgt. Robert Story (JCPD) Shop owner Eldon Elliott went over the paperwork with the two suspects and performed the vehicle inspection.7Jo Thomas, “Truck Was Rented by Oklahoma Bomb Suspect, Witnesses Say,” The New York Times, February 19, 1997. Elliott is certain that there were two men. He testified that “another person was standing there. I glanced at him. I walked between the two of them,” adding that the second man was wearing a “white hat with blue lightning bolts on the side.”8Ibid. Vickie Beemer and Tom Kessinger sat in the office, observing both suspects for about ten minutes when they were in the shop. Beemer said that John Doe #2 crossed behind John Doe #1 to retrieve an ashtray, suggesting he was a smoker.9Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters (New York: HarperCollins, 2012), 105. Two witnesses, Rosemary Zinn and Danny Wilkerson will recount how McVeigh purchased cigarettes from them, though McVeigh wasn’t a smoker.10U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Terry Lynn Nichols, Criminal Action №96-CR-68, December 3, 1997, testimony of Rosemary Zinn; Jo Thomas, “Bomb Trial Focus on John Doe №2,” The New York Times, December 10, 1997; Andrew Gumbel, “McVeigh Did Not Act Alone in Oklahoma Bombing,” The Independent, May 12, 2001. It appears that John Doe #2 was a smoker: this is a seemingly minor detail, yet it’s one that strongly suggests the man was with McVeigh on April 17th and April 19th when numerous witnesses spotted him and incidentally, both days that McVeigh bought cigarettes.
The truck was rented from Elliott’s under a false name: Bob Kling. Therefore, no immediate identification could be made based on the paperwork. The FBI had a sketch artist, Ray Rozycki, produce two sketches based on what the witnesses had seen that Monday. The FBI produced sketches of the two suspects on Tuesday, April 20th, 1995, during a press conference that aired on C-SPAN and all major news networks.
Before getting into the details of what the witnesses in Kansas and Oklahoma City saw, we must examine what the FBI later claimed: John Doe #2 did not exist. On June 15th, 1995, the FBI inexplicably declared that John Doe #2 did not exist and was the result of witness misidentification and confabulation. The FBI said that two other men, Army Private Todd Bunting and Sgt. Michael Hertig, who had rented a truck on Tuesday, April 18th, were confused by the witnesses for a single man (McVeigh) who had rented the bomb truck on Monday.
However, the FBI’s misidentification theory has a fatal flaw that renders it impossible. That flaw is that owner Eldon Elliott was not at work on Tuesday, April 18th, when Todd Bunting and Michael Hertig entered the shop.11“Retired Kansan Repeats Story of Second Man,” Daily Oklahoman, April 6, 2004; “Nichols’ Lawyers Hint at a Wider Conspiracy,” Associated Press, April 6, 2004. Therefore, Elliott has no memory of the other two men. If he has no memory of the other two men, he cannot confuse them with anyone. Additionally, all of the witnesses’ recollections were stunningly accurate: the man they described, represented in the John Doe #1 sketch, is a dead ringer for McVeigh. Meanwhile, the John Doe #2 sketch looks absolutely nothing like Todd Bunting, the Army private the witnesses supposedly remembered when they provided their descriptions.
Why, exactly, the FBI created this bogus story to try to “explain away” John Doe #2 is not fully understood or is perhaps the subject for another essay. At any rate, based on Eldon Elliott’s testimony, we can be certain that two men picked up the bomb truck. Elliott was so sure of this fact that he testified under oath at the 2004 Nichols state trial that the FBI had tried to persuade him and convince him that he was incorrect. However, Elliott noted that he couldn’t have been confused because he never did see the other two men who had rented a truck on the 18th, and besides, he clearly remembers two suspects.12Ibid.
With the FBI’s bogus misidentification theory out of the way, we will move on to what the witnesses said they saw regarding these two suspects. As the reader will see, there were far more witnesses to the second suspect — John Doe #2 — than just the Elliott’s Body Shop employees. In fact, every witness in Oklahoma City on April 19th saw McVeigh with another man in the Ryder truck; meanwhile, Terry Nichols was in Kansas. So, who was this other man?
The following is a transcript of SA Weldon Kennedy’s comments from the Thursday, April 20th, 1995 morning press conference. The description of the suspects provided by SA Kennedy is based on interviews with Elliott’s Body Shop employees Eldon Elliott, Vickie Beemer, and Tom Kessinger.
“Investigators have identified a vehicle that was used in connection with yesterday’s attack on the Federal Building here in Oklahoma City. Further investigation has determined that two white males were associated with this vehicle. As a result, arrest warrants will be sought for these two males. I must point out that that their exact identities are not presently known. Thus the arrest warrants that I am discussing will be for two men, each identified only as ‘John Doe.’
The first man is of medium build, he is further described as approximately 5’10 to 5’11, weighing approximately 180 to 185 pounds with a light brown crew-cut, and he is right handed.
The second man is also of medium build. He is further described as 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing approximately 175 to 180 pounds, with brown hair and a tattoo visible on his left arm, below his t-shirt sleeve. He is possibly a smoker.
Composite sketches of these two men have been prepared; copies are on the way for everyone. Both of these men should be described as armed and extremely dangerous. Anyone with information about these men should provide it immediately to the nearest FBI office.”13FBI U.S. Department of Justice, Statement by FBI Special Agent In Charge Weldon L. Kennedy, April 20, 1995. Note: this press release contains a transcript of Kennedy’s remarks during the corresponding press conference the morning of April 20.
Within days, John Doe #1 would be identified as Timothy McVeigh. John Doe #2, however, was never identified.
The description of John Doe #2 given by Weldon Kennedy during the April 20th press conference matches very closely the description(s) given by other eyewitnesses who observed this man in the company of Timothy McVeigh in the days and even weeks leading up to the April 19th, 1995, bombing.
In the form of a chronology, an outline of some key witness accounts follows:
April 15th, 1995 (Saturday) | Herington, Kansas Santa Fe Trail Diner | U.S. Highway 56 Approximately 7:15–7:30 AM
Barbara Whittenberg and her husband Robert were the proprietors of the Santa Fe Trail Diner and Santa Fe Motel in Herington, Kansas. The diner was situated right off Highway 56, near Junction City, Kansas. Whittenberg worked at the diner where she was in charge of the kitchen and the dining area.
On Saturday, April 15th, Whittenberg opened the diner around 7:00 AM. It was a typical Saturday save for the fact that her opening waitress had called to say she would be late to work. The absence of her opening waitress left Whittenberg alone to handle seating, serving, and cooking until fully staffed.
Within about fifteen minutes of opening, Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and John Doe #2 came into the restaurant for coffee. There was a light-colored sedan with an Arizona license plate and a Ryder truck in the parking lot when the group arrived. Whittenberg’s son said that the vehicle with the Arizona plate was a Thunderbird.14U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County. Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 15, 1997, testimony of Barbara Whittenberg. Notes: Whittenberg details same story that has been covered in numerous media accounts. Has additional details re: death threats, pinpoints actual date of sighting 4/15 contrary to NY Times account. Says vehicle in lot was a Thunderbird w/ Arizona plates.
When serving the group coffee, Whittenberg engaged the group in small talk. Noting the Ryder truck in the parking lot, Whittenberg asked if someone was moving and where to. John Doe #2 spoke up, saying, “Oklahoma.”15Ibid. Whittenberg replied that she had relatives in a town south of Oklahoma City. According to Whittenberg, the remark immediately stopped the conversation dead in its tracks — “McVeigh looked at him, and you could feel buckets of ice being poured over our conversation. I got out of it.”16MGA Films, “Terror From Within: The Untold Story of the Oklahoma City Bombing.” 2002. Video, 1:04:25; Notes: Whittenberg’s account is given in this documentary; the quote comes from the video. The video pins the date as April 15th, the same given in Whittenberg’s Grand Jury testimony.
Whittenberg remembers the encounter vividly not only because she had opened the cafe short-staffed that morning, but also because she recognized Nichols and McVeigh as occasional customers. However, the third man with the group, Whittenberg testified, she did not recognize. She would later tell investigators and testify to a grand jury that this man had olive skin and looked possibly Hawaiian. Whittenberg testified that the man with McVeigh and Nichols had a “thick neck” and looked “like a bodybuilder.” These details are notable in that nearly a dozen witnesses have used identical language to describe this individual. For example, witnesses Bill Maloney and Joe Davidson described the man they saw in November 1994, with McVeigh and Nichols, as “like a bodybuilder” and said that he had a “thick neck.” Post office employee Debbie Nakanashi testified that the man she saw with McVeigh was muscular, “like a bodybuilder.” Maloney, Nakanashi, and Whittenberg all noted the man’s muscular build and used almost identical language to describe him. When shown the FBI sketch of the man encountered by Bill Maloney and Joe Davidson, Whittenberg told a CNN reporter, “This is the closest picture I’ve seen yet.”17“FBI Seeks Man With McVeigh,” Spokane Spokesman-Review, March 10, 1997. Did Bill Maloney, Joe Davidson, Debbie Nakanashi, and Barbara Whittenberg all see the same individual?
Whittenberg’s account was reported on in major newspapers, wire service reports, and magazines, and she would recount what she had seen in at least one documentary film. Whittenberg’s account appeared in the New York Times in the fall of 1995, the Washington Post in April of 1996, in a May 1996 issue of The New American magazine, the June 4th edition of McCurtain Gazette, and the June 23rd, 1996 edition of the Kansas City Star.18Jo Thomas, “Sightings of John Doe №2: In Blast Case, Mystery №1,” The New York Times, December 3, 1995; Lois Romano, “A Year After Oklahoma City Bombing, Many Mysteries Remain,” The Washington Post, April 19, 1996; J.D. Cash, and Jeff Holladay, “2 Ryder Trucks Were Used in Oklahoma City Bombing,” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], June 4, 1996; Judy Thomas, “The Picture of Hope and Persistence: Grandparents of Bombing Victims Seek John Doe 2,” Kansas City Star, June 23, 1996. The Associated Press would issue a syndicated report throughout all national newspapers on March 9th, 1997, and the same month Whittenberg’s account would feature prominently in a TIME magazine article.19“Report: FBI Looking For Man Seen With Bombing Suspects,” Associated Press, March 9, 1997; “Who Is Robert Jacques?,” TIME Magazine, March 17, 1997.
Whittenberg’s media exposure was at an apex in 1997. That is when the death threats started. She received a threatening letter, which she turned over to the FBI.20U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County. Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 15, 1997, testimony of Barbara Whittenberg. Notes: Whittenberg describes a threatening letter that was hand delivered to her mailbox (not sent through the post office) and how she subsequently moved and got a P.O. Box. Whittenberg would later testify in 1997 before the grand jury impaneled to investigate the bombing that she began receiving death threats telling her to keep her mouth shut. She told a Daily Oklahoman newspaper reporter about these threats, saying that “I’ve started to regret I ever said a thing,” adding, “I don’t do telephone interviews anymore. I used to not be that way. I’m sorry.”21“Some Witnesses Leery of Bombing Grand Jury,” Daily Oklahoman, August 10, 1997. Alludes to the death threats Whittenberg has received, quoted.
The Ryder truck that Whittenberg saw in the parking lot caused considerable confusion for both newspapers and the FBI: many papers (including the New York Times) inaccurately reported the date of Whittenberg’s encounter as April 18th, the day after the bomb truck was rented. The FBI discounted Whittenberg because she had seen the Ryder truck, thinking she must be mistaken or lying. After all, McVeigh did not rent the large 20-foot bomb truck until April 17th. However, Whittenberg’s account matches up with that of other witnesses in Kansas. Nearly a dozen witnesses saw McVeigh with a Ryder truck between April 11th and April 16th, for an entire week before renting the more massive truck from Elliott’s. Witnesses from the Dreamland Motel all told the FBI that they distinctly remember McVeigh parking a Ryder truck in the lot on Easter Sunday: April 16th.22U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Terry Lynn Nichols. Criminal Action №96-CR-68, December 2, 1997, testimony of Lea McGown; U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Timothy James McVeigh. Criminal Action №96-CR-68, May 8, 1997, testimony of Eric McGown; U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Timothy James McVeigh. Criminal Action №96-CR-68, May 22, 1997, testimony of Herta King; SA Mark Bouton, FBI 302 interview w/ Eric McGown, April 24, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-2609; Lois Romano, “A Year After Oklahoma City Bombing, Many Mysteries Remain,” The Washington Post, April 19, 1996; Maurice Possley, “Teen Eyewitness Links McVeigh to Ryder Truck,” The Chicago Tribune, May 9, 1997; Steven Wilmsen, “One Oops for the Prosecution,” Denver Post, May 11, 1997; Howard Pankratz,“The Defense Has A Plan,” Denver Post, May 22, 1997; Notes: Half a dozen witnesses at the Dreamland Motel vividly recount McVeigh parking a Ryder truck at the motel on Easter. Easter witnesses include motel manager Lea McGown, her son Eric (who saw it after Easter brunch, and later while cleaning the pool), David and Herta King, Connie and Donald Hood, and Renda Truong. David King noted specific details about both trucks, saying the first truck was “older” and “faded yellow” while the new truck spotted after April 17 was “newer, more aerodynamic looking” and much larger. Speculation is the smaller truck was found to be not large enough to house the 7,000 pound bomb. These witnesses universally described the first truck as smaller and having a washed-out “faded” look. Some of these witnesses said that the truck did not have the “Ryder” logo on it. This smaller moving truck was spotted parked at Geary Lake by at least three witnesses on four consecutive days: April 11th through 14th.23U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County. Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 15 1997, testimony of James Sargent; U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Terry Lynn Nichols, Criminal Action №96-CR-68, December 4, 1997, testimony of James Sargent; Steve Wilmsen, “One Oops For Prosecution,” Denver Post, May 11, 1997; Howard Pankratz, “The Defense Has a Plan,” Denver Post, May 22, 1997; J.D. Cash, and Jeff Holladay, “2 Ryder Trucks Were Used in Oklahoma City Bombing,” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], June 4, 1996; U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County. Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 15, 1997, testimony of Georgia Rucker; U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Terry Lynn Nichols. Criminal Action №96-CR-68, December 4, 1997, testimony of Georgia Rucker; Sandy Shore, “Nichols’ Witnesses Dispute Timeline on Building of Bomb,” Associated Press, December 5, 1997; Jo Thomas, “Bomb Lawyer Seeks to Show Big Conspiracy,” The New York Times, December 5, 1997; Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles, Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters (New York: HarperCollins, 2012) pp. 200–201. Following that, the truck was parked at the Dreamland Motel. At some point following Easter Sunday, this truck disappeared. It is assumed that the bombing conspirators either got rid of that truck because it was too small to house the 7,000-pound bomb or used for some other unspecified purpose.
In her grand jury testimony, Whittenberg expressed some level of frustration that she was not taken more seriously by the FBI. She said that the FBI told her they were not interested in her account because she saw the Ryder truck and McVeigh had not rented a truck until the 17th. Whittenberg said that she did not care one way or another, because she knew what she had seen, and she knew she was telling the truth.
April 18th, 1995 (Tuesday) | Oklahoma City Center City Post Office | 5th Street ~9:00–10:00 AM
Debbie Nakanashi, Raymond Michael Klish, and Karen Reece were employees at the Post Office across the street from the Murrah Building. According to these witnesses’ interviews, on the morning of the 18th, Timothy McVeigh and John Doe # 2 visited the Post Office. The two men spoke briefly with Debbie Nakanashi, asking her where they might get federal job applications. McVeigh did not speak during the encounter, with John Doe #2 doing all of the talking.24U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County, Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 9, 1997, testimony of Deborah Inez Nakanashi; Brian Ford, “Grand Jury Listens to Witnesses,” Tulsa World, July 20, 1997.
Regarding John Doe #2, Nakanashi told ABC News that “he walked with a military bearing. He had dark skin, olive skin. It was obvious to me this other man was the one that was in control of the situation; he was the boss.”25Erin Hayes, “Were There Others? Witnesses Claim McVeigh Had an Accomplice, FBI Denies.” ABC News, May 30, 2001. In an interview with investigators, Klish stated that John Doe #2 — the man who did the talking — was “about 5’10” with dark hair that was combed straight back, stocky build, approximately 200 pounds.”26Marty Reed and Wilma Sparks. Private investigators’ interview of Mike Raymond Klish, June 18, 1996. Klish estimated the man was probably late 30s. The other man, Klish said, never spoke a word and was 6′, slim, with a military-type haircut.
Nakanashi was interviewed by SA Daniel Risner and SA Michael Behrends of the FBI on April 22nd, 1995, when her memory was fresh. She was also interviewed by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and then frequently by the FBI in the months following the bombing, meeting multiple times and providing a description of the man she saw to an FBI sketch artist. Nakanashi says of her interviews, “I met always with two men, always a different set of men, four, five, six times. I picked McVeigh out of a photo lineup, but I did admit I had seen him on television. Then they asked about John Doe #2, the guy I spoke with. I told them the guy they had a composite sketch of was not my guy at all.”27“Some Witnesses Leery of Bombing Grand Jury,” Daily Oklahoman, August 10, 1997. Nakanashi said that the extant sketch of John Doe #2 was not quite the man she saw — he looked different than the drawing. FBI sketch artist Jean Boylan interviewed Debbie Nakanashi for six hours to put together a sketch of the man she, Klish, and Reece had seen. Boylan said that “Debbie was such a good witness. I really believed her.”28Sandy M. Fernandez. “Drawn to Trouble.” Elle Magazine, Dec. 2001. pp. 126–133. Boylan then worked with Elliott’s Body shop employee Tom Kessinger to put together a more accurate sketch of the man he’d seen with John Doe #1 at Elliott’s Body Shop. That sketch — a side profile of John Doe #2 with a hat on — was released to the media and depicted almost precisely the man Nakanashi described to Boylan. When FBI official Weldon Kennedy held a press conference clutching the sketch, Nakanashi recognized the rendering instantly: “My John Doe №2 was the second sketch with the side view with the high cheekbones — that is my guy, the guy I saw.”29“Some Witnesses Leery of Bombing Grand Jury,” Daily Oklahoman, August 10, 1997.
Nakanashi appeared on “Good Morning America” in 2001. On the segment, Jean Boylan’s John Doe 2 profile sketch was shown. Nakanashi commented, “There’s a guy out there that looks exactly like that [JD2 sketch] that helped blow up the Murrah Building, and nobody’s looking for him, and nobody seems to care if he gets found and is prosecuted or not. And that really bothers me.”30“Catch All Terrorists,” WND, June 11, 2001; Good Morning America, June 2001.
April 18th, 1995 (Tuesday) | Oklahoma City Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building Approximately 4:45 PM
Guy Rubsamen, a security guard, working outside the Social Security office at the Murrah Federal Building, saw something highly unusual the afternoon before the bombing. In retrospect, it appears to have been a “dry-run” of the bombing carried out by the bombing conspirators.
Rubsamen reported that on the afternoon before the bombing, around 4:45 PM, he observed three individuals pull up in a yellow Ryder truck. They parked the truck “dead center” in front of the Murrah Building, shut off the engine, and then exited the vehicle in a hurry. Rubsamen described the encounter to McCurtain Gazette reporter J.D. Cash and Rocky Mountain News reporter Kevin Flynn: “There was either two or three men, one jumped out the driver’s side, and one or two out the passenger side. The first thing that struck me was how quickly they jumped out. Those guys were in a hurry.”31SA Thomas Wall, FBI 302 interview w/ Guy Gerald Rubsamen, May 22, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-5389; SA Lee A. Zechter, FBI 302 interview w/ Guy Gerald Rubsamen, August 25, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-9804; J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay, “Did Conspirators Try ‘Dry Run’ on Eve of OKC Bombing?” McCurtain Gazette [Idabel, OK], Sept. 1, 1996; Kevin Flynn, “Guard Saw 2nd Truck At Building, Story Mirrors Bombing Trial Witness’ Account of Blast Day,” Rocky Mountain News [Denver, CO], May 24, 1997.
After about fifteen minutes had passed and no one had entered the building with a delivery, Rubsamen went back out front to check and saw that the Ryder truck was gone. Rubsamen recalled after the bombing that the yellow moving truck appeared like a Ryder rental truck because it was yellow. However, the Ryder logo was weathered and faded or painted over. Was this truck, with its faded Ryder logo, the second Ryder truck that other witnesses observed April 10th through 16th? It sure sounds like it, described by Rubsamen in the same terms as the truck spotted at Geary Lake and the Dreamland Motel.
Did Guy Rubsamen observe a dry-run for the bombing? Who were the three men he saw?
April 19th, 1995 (Wednesday) | Kingman, Kansas Save-A-Trip Approximately 1:30–2:30 AM
Richard Sinnettwas assistant manager at a Save-A-Trip convenience store in Kingman, Kansas, on the day of the bombing and would have an encounter in the early morning hours of April 19th that serves as one of the most compelling accounts that others were involved in the bombing that day.
A little after midnight, between 1:30 and 2:30 AM, on April 19th, 1995, Sinnett observed a three-car convoy of a Ryder truck, four-door sedan, and brown truck in the parking lot of the Save-A-Trip.32U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County, Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, September 11, 1997, testimony of Richard Sinnett; Richard Sinnett interview w/ J.D. Cash for MGA films, March 11, 1999; Paul Queary, “Kansan Says He Saw Them, Ryder Truck,” Topeka Capital-Journal, September 12, 1997; Brian Ford, “McVeigh Placed at Kansas Store,” Tulsa World, September 12, 1997; “Witness Tells of Seeing McVeigh In Truck,” Rocky Mountain News, September 12, 1997; “Mystery of John Doe №2 Pervades Conspiracy Investigation,” Dallas Morning News, September 14, 1997; The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building April 19, 1995, (The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, 2001), 161–162. Sinnett’s encounter began when a man started pumping gas into the Ryder truck, causing the fuel-control console behind the counter in the store to emit a tone indicating a customer has engaged the gas pump.
When Sinnett looked up and out into the lot, he saw a man with his back to him pumping gas into the Ryder truck and, at that time, observed that the Ryder truck was pulling a trailer with a huge fuel tank mounted on it. Sinnett paid close attention to the Ryder truck because the trailer attached to it had a very large cylindrical or barrel-shaped fuel tank mounted on it that looked, unlike anything he had ever seen before. Sinnett said that the tank mounted on the trailer had to have been about 6 feet wide and was so large it would have “barely fit into the back of the Ryder truck so it would have easily held over a thousand gallons of liquid.” Sinnett said he could see a clear colored liquid sloshing around in the large fuel tank as the convoy left the parking lot.
Sinnett would recount this encounter in great detail to the OKC grand jury investigating the bombing. He would testify that a man he referred to as John Doe #2 pumped gas into the Ryder truck while the truck driver entered the Save-A-Trip and asked where the restroom was.
Sinnett directed the Ryder truck’s driver to the rear of the store and would describe him as being about 6 feet tall with light-colored hair and a military-looking haircut. While the driver was using the restroom, John Doe #2 finished pumping gas and entered the store where he picked out a sandwich from the deli counter. Sinnett heated the sandwich for John Doe #2 in the microwave, and just as the sandwich had finished being heated, the Ryder truck’s driver came out of the restroom and approached the counter. John Doe #2 then paid for the sandwich, and the man who had used the restroom paid for the gas.33Ibid.
Sinnett said that the man who pumped the gas and picked out a sandwich, paying in cash, had features that matched some details of the sketches and descriptions of John Doe #2 later provided by others. The man was about 5’7 or 5’8, muscular “like a football player,” about 180 lbs, with dark hair parted on one side and brushed back.34Ibid. After the sketch of John Doe #2 was aired in the media on April 20th, Sinnett says he recognized it immediately as depicting the man he had seen that night. He told the Associated Press that “the eyes were perfect. I recognized him right away.”35“Witness Tells of Seeing McVeigh In Truck,” Rocky Mountain News, September 12, 1997.
After both men exited the Save-A-Trip together, Sinnett watched as the two spoke animatedly to one another just outside the door before getting into the Ryder truck. Sinnett was left with the impression that the two were arguing with one another, testifying that the taller of the two men was waving his arms around and “kind of getting in the face of” the man he referred to as John Doe #2. Following this, the pair got into the Ryder truck with John Doe #2 entering via the passenger side. As the Ryder truck began to exit the parking lot, Sinnett observed a four-door sedan and brown pickup truck pull up alongside, and behind, the Ryder truck and watched as all three vehicles pulled out onto highway 54 together.
The convoy took Sinnett by surprise — he was unaware that the brown pickup and four-door sedan had been in the lot until that moment. Sinnett testified that “the car and the truck [pulling up alongside the Ryder] was just almost immediate, one after the other, and that caught me by surprise because I didn’t even know they were back behind the building.”36Transcript of Richard Sinnett interview w/ J.D. Cash for MGA films, March 11, 1999. Sinnett did not get a good look inside the sedan or brown truck and could not account for how many people might have been in either vehicle.
The Save-A-Trip in Kingman, Kansas, is located just 35 miles west of Wichita, about a half hour’s drive on the highway. It’s 175 miles north of Oklahoma City, about three hours away. This puts the convenience store at a location where the convoy could reach Oklahoma City between 4 and 6 AM, depending on how fast the convoy was traveling and how many stops they would make. Sinnett would relate that “they had plenty of time to get down there” in an interview with the Daily Oklahoman.
April 19th, 1995 (Wednesday) | Oklahoma City YMCA Building | 125 NW 5th Street 8:02 AM
Morris John Kuper, an employee of the nearby Kerr-McGee Oil Company, saw Timothy McVeigh and John Doe #2 walking away from the 5th street YMCA building on the morning of the bombing. Kuper observed both men running towards and getting into a yellow Mercury Marquis parked in the Kerr-McGee company’s parking lot. Kuper recalls the time because he was late for work and looked at his watch right after seeing the two men, at 8:02 AM.37SA James A. Beck, FBI 302 interview w/ Morris John Kuper, October 24, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-10935; SA James A. Beck, FBI 302 interview w/ Morris John Kuper, November 1, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-11356; Jo Thomas, “Bomb Trial Focus on John Doe №2,” The New York Times, December 10, 1997; David Neiwert, “The Mystery of John Doe №2.” Salon.com, June 9, 2001. This was almost exactly one hour before the bombing.
Kuper called the FBI on April 21st to report what he had seen. He also suggested that FBI agents check the nearby security cameras at the Public Library and Southwestern Bell buildings, which they did. The FBI seized the surveillance camera footage from the SWB building and all other surveillance camera footage in the area.
When Kuper testified at the Nichols trial, prosecutors tried to challenge Kuper’s credibility, telling the jurors that he never contacted the FBI.38U.S. District Court, Colorado. U.S. v. Terry Lynn Nichols. Criminal Action №96-CR-68, December 5, 1997, testimony of Morris Kuper. However, in 2001, the FBI released thousands of documents found to have been withheld from the Defense team. Among those documents was an FBI lead sheet showing that Morris Kuper had, indeed, contacted the FBI just two days after the bombing, relating to them what he saw that morning: Timothy McVeigh and John Doe #2.39Jo Thomas, “Document Erases Doubts About a McVeigh Witness,” The New York Times, May 27, 2001
April 19th, 1995 (Wednesday) | Oklahoma City Intersection of Main and Robinson St. 8:30 AM
At the time of the bombing, Kyle Hunt was a Vice President at Bank of Oklahoma, responsible for credit & collections and managing the bank’s sale of real estate properties. Hunt and his wife were both respected members of the community and active in 4-H activities. With these facts in mind, one must consider Hunt’s account to be credible and worthy of careful consideration.
On the morning of the bombing, Hunt was on his way to the BOK building on Kerr Ave to meet with his attorney, a meeting scheduled for 8:30 AM. He was running late, and Hunt said he had just exited Interstate 40 into downtown Oklahoma City when he had an unusual encounter that would remain etched into his memory forever. As Hunt was driving through downtown, about four blocks from the Murrah Building, he encountered Timothy McVeigh and three other individuals.40SA David Argo & SA D.J. Dunlap, FBI 302 interview w/ Kyle Hunt, April 27, 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 D-452; U.S. District Court, Oklahoma County, Grand Jury No. CJ-95–7278, July 14, 1997, testimony of Kyle Hunt; Paul Queary, “Banker Testifies Before Grand Jury Probe of Conspiracy Allegations,” The Topeka Capital-Journal, July 15, 1997.
Hunt reported that as he was driving east on Main St. he approached a stoplight where already stopped ahead in the lane adjacent to his, there was a Ryder truck followed close behind by a four-door sedan driven by Timothy McVeigh. Hunt said that it was 8:30 AM when this encounter happened, as he’d been checking his watch because he was late for his scheduled meeting.
As Hunt pulled ahead, slowly passed the sedan, and came to a stop at the light next to the Ryder truck, he got a good look at the sedan’s driver. Hunt reported that the sedan was driven by a man with angular features and a short military-style haircut and that there were two other men inside, one in the passenger seat and one in the back seat.41Ibid. One of the men in the sedan had long dark hair.
Hunt would recall the driver’s face vividly because the two made eye contact as Hunt passed the Mercury. Hunt said, “as I pulled closer, the driver of the sedan [McVeigh] warned me off. I got an icy-cold, go-to-hell look from the young man that I now know to be Timothy McVeigh.”42J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay, “Startling New Evidence: At Least 4 People Directly Involved in Bombing,” McCurtain Gazette, January 23, 1996. Hunt is positive; the driver was McVeigh, later saying “it was unnerving” and the look that the driver gave him “fixed the features of his face in my mind.”
Hunt saw McVeigh on television just two days later when McVeigh was marched out of the Noble County courthouse in Perry, Oklahoma. Hunt testified that at that time, he immediately recognized McVeigh’s face as the driver who had chillingly glared at him in traffic.
A day or two afterward Hunt was being visited at his home by a police officer friend, and Hunt recounted to him what he’d seen. The friend advised him to contact authorities about the encounter, and the FBI would interview Hunt three times regarding what he saw. Hunt also recounted what he saw to grand jury petitioner Glenn Willburn in a tape-recorded interview. He would also testify before the grand jury was impaneled to investigate the bombing. Hunt’s accounting of this story has never wavered, and to this day, remains compelling and credible.
Who were the other men with Timothy McVeigh? If McVeigh was driving the Mercury, who was driving the Ryder truck? By Hunt’s account, this puts four men in the convoy — incidentally the same number of people observed by Richard Sinnett hours earlier when the convoy had stopped at Sinnett’s Save-A-Trip in Kingman, Kansas.
April 19th, 1995 (Wednesday) | Oklahoma City 5th Street, Eastbound 9:00–9:02 AM
Rodney Johnson was a driver for Rolling Inn Catering in Oklahoma City at the time of the bombing. On the morning of the bombing, Johnson traveled eastbound on 5th Street, making his way to Cox Tomato in the Bricktown area of downtown Oklahoma City. This morning commute took Johnson past the Murrah building, usually between 8 and 9 AM. It has been established that Johnson probably passed the Murrah building around 9:00 AM — his truck had just passed the Murrah Building when it was impacted by debris at 9:02 when the bomb exploded.
Just thirty to sixty seconds before Johnson felt the bomb go off, he observed two men on foot hurrying away from the Murrah building. The pair ran into 5th Street and in front of the catering truck. Johnson had to brake his vehicle and let the men pass in front of him, and in doing so, got a good look at both suspects.43SA John Hippard, FBI 302 interview of Rodney Johnson, Apr 26, 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-3253; U.S. Secret Service Timeline, May ’95. pg 73. Johnson contacted the FBI on the night of the bombing about what he had seen and was interviewed by the FBI on April 21st by SA John Hippard.
Johnson described the taller man who ran in front of his catering truck as approximately 6′ to 6’1″, late 20s to early 30s, short sandy blonde hair, crew cut, wearing a white t-shirt. When shown a composite sketch of John Doe #1 by the FBI, Johnson said it highly resembled the man he saw. On April 22nd, when Johnson saw McVeigh’s arrest on television, he called FBI Special Agent John Hippard and told him that McVeigh was the man he saw.44Ibid.
The man Johnson saw with McVeigh the morning of the bombing was described to the FBI as being “stocky, about 5’8”, with black hair, wearing blue jeans and a dark-colored jacket.” Johnson did not get as good a look at the second man as he did McVeigh, who passed closer to Johnson’s truck than the second man who followed. Johnson would later tell reporters about what he saw:
“I saw two individuals, Timothy McVeigh and John Doe #2, cross Fifth Street just minutes before the blast. I remember the Ryder truck, parked against the building. I was making a move from the first lane [of 5th Street] to the next left lane when I noticed two individuals, one of them, Timothy McVeigh, and one of them John Doe #2.”45Rodney Johnson’s comments from a press conference were excerpted in several documentary films. See A Noble Lie (2012), and Terror From Within (2001)
Johnson is adamant that he saw Timothy McVeigh with another man. In television news footage broadcast after the bombing, Johnson said “I know for a fact Timothy McVeigh was with another individual on the morning of April 19th right before the bombing.”
The witness accounts presented here are just a fraction of the many witnesses who observed Timothy McVeigh in Kansas and downtown Oklahoma City. There are many more, and it wasn’t easy to select which accounts I would present here. Ultimately, what the witness statements do is confirm that there was at least one other accomplice with McVeigh. The accounts of the Elliott’s Body Shop employees uniformly describe an accomplice. The corroborating testimony from witnesses Barbara Whittenberg, Debbie Nakanashi, Guy Rubsamen, Richard Sinnett, Morris Kuper, Kyle Hunt, and Rodney Johnson also support this second suspect’s existence. The critical thing to remember about these witness accounts is that they are not outliers or otherwise aberrations. In large part, all of the witness accounts are corroborative; these people all saw just about the same thing.
Consider this: not a single witness who saw Tim McVeigh at the crime scene was called to testify at his trial. Imagine how powerful it would have been for the prosecutors if they could have put someone on the witness stand who would point to Timothy McVeigh and say, “it’s him. I saw him. I’m sure of it.” Why didn’t prosecutors go for the kill? There is a straightforward reason that none of these witnesses ever testified at trial: every single one of them would have also said, “he had another guy with him. Another man was sitting next to him in the truck.” This other man, John Doe #2, could not be easily accounted for by the prosecution. In fact, he wasn’t explained at all.
Later, the FBI’s first on-scene commander of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation wrote a book. In his book, Weldon Kennedy wrote this: “this was going to be a case largely built from forensic evidence since there were no eyewitnesses.” No eyewitnesses. I will leave it up to the reader to determine why Kennedy wrote that in his book, and whether Kennedy was telling the truth when he wrote it.
Recently Kamala Harris tweeted a video where she’s talking nonsense about “equity” and “equality” — pandering to the left’s progressives — which ends with her saying, “equitable treatment means we all end up in the same place.”
End up at the same place. Well, it’s Kamala Harris … so we can deduce that she’s talking about jail. We all end up in jail. “A cell for you, a cell for you, and a cell for you! Everyone gets a cell!”
The Trump train has been working overtime to paint Kamala Harris as the most radical left-leaning figure in the Democratic party, but this is a misstep: it’s inaccurate. They could illustrate how Kamala Harris is a longtime pro-cop prosecutor with a history of locking people up in prison. In that respect, it can be shown that Harris is the Democratic candidate most unsupportive of the goals of the progressive base in terms of immigration, criminal justice reform, and police accountability. Harris’s history puts her at the other end of the spectrum of the Black Lives Matter movement, squarely in the same category as Joe Biden, whose 1994 crime bill was responsible for sending thousands of minorities to prison. Harris sought to do the same as San Francisco DA and later AG in California.
Harris was equally unsupportive of criminal justice reform. As law professor Lara Bazelon wrote in the Wall Street Journal, “progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent.” According to the Wall Street Journal piece, “Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official police misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.” A memo surfaced which showed that Harris and her deputies knew about police wrongdoing, yet Harris failed to alert defense attorneys of clients impacted by the police misconduct. A judge later condemned Harris for this violation of defendants’ constitutional rights while Harris contested the judge’s ruling–and she lost. As a result, over 600 cases handled by a corrupt police technician were dismissed. This is but one example of how Harris is decidedly pro-jail, pro-corruption, and pro-police: not quite the far-left radical that the Trump team would have you believe. A half dozen other examples documented in a January 2019 New York Times piece that show Harris consistently supported prosecutorial misconduct and police wrongdoing that resulted in wrongful convictions, some resulting in life sentences and even the death penalty. On the death penalty, Harris is no better than she is on police reform: she appealed a judge’s ruling that the death penalty was unconstitutional and incredulously claimed that such a ruling “undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants.” She opposed DNA testing that would later prove a death-row inmate was innocent. Likewise, Harris defended a Kern county prosecutor who falsified a defendant’s confession, which was later used to threaten a life sentence.
Harris’s indefensible support for police misconduct isn’t limited to death penalty cases: it seems that hard time is Kamala’s one-size-fits-all solution for even the pettiest of crimes. In what is perhaps the most outrageous example of Harris’ overzealous “lock ’em up” mindset, she sent police officers to lock up the parents of children who had missed school. Yes, she sent people to jail for truancy. What’s worse, her office failed to do their due diligence in some truancy cases before throwing on the handcuffs. In one example, a young girl suffering from sickle cell anemia missed school due to hospitalization, and as a result, that poor girl’s mother had handcuffs put on her, and she was stuck in a police cruiser while filmed by local news media. Recounting this policy, Kamala Harris later laughed about it.
These are just a few examples from Kamala Harris’s record. Keep these in mind when Harris touts anything about “equity” or “equality” — as history has shown, Harris seems to believe that everyone is guilty until proven innocent, and if we’re all headed to the same place, under Kamala’s watch, that place is a prison cell.
Despite the seemingly simple conclusion behind the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing, the investigation was exceedingly complicated. To this day, it is still the FBI’s most massive investigation, comprised of millions of pages of evidence. Careful analysis of this paper trail shows that the official narrative of the FBI and ATF is in fact a half-truth that ignores findings supported by the records. The FBI and ATF’s positions are frequently backed up with misleading statements, and in some instances, total fabrications.
In an honest investigation, there would be no reason to concoct and disseminate lies. If we believe that the FBI and ATF investigations were fair and legitimate, then we would expect to not find so many blatant examples of dishonesty. Yet, they exist: one after another, often repeated, and affirmed as truth. Some lies are small, others large. But what they have in common is a systemic problem that speaks to the very integrity of the agencies tasked with investigating this crime. The FBI is not a person suffering from a disorder that causes delusions. If an FBI or ATF official is formulating a lie, or propagating an extant lie, there is an objective.
All too often, it appears at the aim of these agencies is to conceal an inconvenient truth, to hide something that may otherwise invalidate the official narrative or camouflage something to heinous for the public to accept. Federal agencies’ overall deceptive pattern points to shared complicity or guilt, which should be of great concern.
In this essay we’ll examine some of the lies and wrongdoing that officials at the FBI and ATF have engaged in regarding their investigation(s) of the Oklahoma City bombing. I have uncovered half a dozen examples throughout investigating this case. Initially, I did not go out of my way looking for deception. It was something I continually discovered naturally. In some cases, the lies may be related to one another and will provide insight and clarity about what happened on the morning of April 19, 1995.
There Were No Eyewitnesses
I came upon the first example while reading On Scene Commander by Weldon Kennedy. Kennedy was the FBI’s first on-scene commander of the Oklahoma City bombing investigation and could be found hosting press conferences to discuss developments in the early days after the attack. In his memoir, Kennedy wrote that “this was going to be a case largely built from forensic evidence since there were no eyewitnesses.”1Kennedy, Weldon L. On-Scene Commander: From Street Agent to Deputy Director of the FBI. Potomac Books, 2007, pp. 224. (Kindle Edition)
Full stop: no eyewitnesses? This assertion is a blatant lie and should be a clue to the discerning reader that whatever the eyewitnesses saw must be important. It is surprising that Kennedy would write this, given the vast number of mainstream media reports that included eyewitness accounts2Thomas, Jo. “Sightings of John Doe No. 2: In Blast Case, Mystery No. 1.” The New York Times, 3 Dec. 1995., along with the FBI’s 302 reports that detailed eyewitness interviews. Even Kennedy himself, during his April 20, 1995 press conference, described a second suspect who was spotted alongside Timothy McVeigh: “The second man is also of medium build. He is further described as 5 feet 9 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing approximately 175 to 180 pounds, with brown hair and a tattoo visible on his left arm, below his t-shirt sleeve. He is possibly a smoker.”3Statement by FBI Special Agent in Charge Weldon L. Kennedy. Press Release: U.S. Department of Justice, FBI. 20 Apr. 1995. Three eyewitnesses from Elliott’s Body Shop provided this description of a man who, alongside McVeigh, picked up the bomb-truck on April 17. This same suspect would be spotted with McVeigh at the crime scene on April 19.
The FBI uncovered about two dozen key eyewitnesses over the course of their investigation. These individuals observed Timothy McVeigh and the Ryder truck as it approached the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on the morning of the bombing, most of them between 8:30 AM and 9:02 AM when the bomb went off. Following the explosion, FBI agent Danny Coulson was in charge of the crime scene, occupying a position of authority similar to Weldon Kennedy as an on-scene commander. In 2007, Coulson spoke candidly to the BBC about the voluminous eyewitnesses that came forward: “We know there were 24 people that were interviewed by the FBI that said they saw Mr. McVeigh on April 19 with someone else.”4“Call to Reopen Oklahoma Bomb Case.” BBC Two, 2 Mar. 2007 <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/6275147.stm>; The Conspiracy Files: Oklahoma City, BBC. 4 Mar. 2007. Coulson’s statement is corroborated by the FBI’s 302 reports which contain the descriptions these witnesses provided agents.
For example, catering truck driver Rodney Johnson spoke to the FBI on the night of the bombing and for several days after. Johnson described how he had to slam on his truck’s brakes to avoid hitting two men running across the street as they exited the Ryder truck.5FBI 302 report. SA John Hippard. Interview w/ Rodney Johnson. 21 Apr 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 D-3253 He got a good look at both John Doe #1 and John Doe #2, and his description of the suspects matches the one given by Weldon Kennedy during his April 20 press conference. Rodney Johnson’s catering truck co-worker, Billie Hood, also saw the fleeing pair and was interviewed by the FBI.6FBI 302 report. SA John Hippard. Interview w/ Billie J. Hood. 27 Apr. 1995. FILE #174A-OC-56120 D-3428 Following McVeigh’s arrest, Johnson was re-interviewed and confirmed McVeigh was one of the two men he saw.
According to Weldon Kennedy, both Rodney Johnson and Billie Hood are the product of fever dreams “since there were no eyewitnesses.”
Another witness, Mike Moroz was interviewed by the FBI numerous times in the week after the bombing. Moroz was a mechanic working at Johnny’s Tire, an automotive repair shop located a few blocks from the Murrah Building. On the morning of the bombing, Timothy McVeigh pulled the bomb-truck into Johnny’s Tire at about 8:30am to ask for directions.7Oklahoma County Grand Jury #CJ-95-7278, testimony of Mike Moroz, September 15th, 1997; FBI 302 report. SA John Elvig. Interview w/ Mike Moroz. 21 April 1995, file #174A-OC-56120 D-68; “Man Who Says McVeigh Wasn’t Alone Testifies Before Grand Jury.” Rocky Mountain News, 16 Sept. 1997; Clay, Nolan. “Nichols’ jurors hear of McVeigh sightings.” The Daily Oklahoman, 14 May, 2004. He was looking for a one-way street downtown, a route leading to the Murrah Building. Moroz recounted the interaction to the FBI, explaining that he had spoken to McVeigh face-to-face. His co-workers, Allen Gorrell and Byron Marshall, were also interviewed and confirmed that McVeigh had stopped for directions.8FBI 302 report. SA John Elvig. Interview w/ Allen Gorrell, 24 April 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 SubD-70 and FBI 302 report. SA John Elvig and OSBI SA Terry Wade. Interview w/ Byron Marshall, 24 April 1995, File #174A-OC-56120 SubD-760
Moroz also said that McVeigh had a passenger in the Ryder truck with him. Moroz’s account was so significant that the FBI brought him downtown to their command center, where he selected Timothy McVeigh out of a live line-up the weekend following the arrest.9Trammell, Robby and Nolan Clay. “FBI Downplays Man’s Account Of Truck Driver.” The Oklahoman, 16 Aug. 1995. Print. See also: Oklahoma County Grand Jury #CJ-95-7278, testimony of Mike Moroz, September 15th, 1997. Mike Moroz would have been a damning trial witness for the prosecution, able to put Timothy McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City and finger his destination as the Murrah Building. Rodney Johnson, too, would have been an incredible asset. He could have placed McVeigh with the Ryder truck at the Murrah Building prior to the explosion. Unfortunately, their testimonies were forsaken in favor of forensic evidence because authorities preferred to pretend they didn’t exist.
Contrary to Weldon Kennedy’s assertion, the FBI attested to these witnesses in a preliminary hearing on April 27, 1995. During his testimony, FBI agent Jon Hersley referred to the observations of both Johnson and Moroz as central to the ongoing investigation.10U.S. vs. Timothy McVeigh, № M-95–98-H (Western District of Oklahoma.) Preliminary Hearing, 27 Apr. 1995. Testimony of Jon Hersley. p 76 and p 93 However, by the time of the McVeigh and Nichols trials—and Weldon Kennedy’s book—these witnesses would disappear from the narrative, rendered nonexistent. Why? Was it because all of these eyewitnesses saw another man in the Ryder truck with McVeigh?
Rodney Johnson, Billie Hood, Mike Moroz, Alan Gorrell, and Byron Marshall are only five of the more than two dozen eyewitnesses who saw Timothy McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19. All of these individuals—described by Danny Coulson and denied by Weldon Kennedy—have something in common: each one confirmed that they saw McVeigh with a second person. This common denominator suggests that the impetus for Kennedy’s lie about “no eyewitnesses” was a concentrated effort to avoid explaining who the man spotted with McVeigh was.
Why did the FBI want to obscure this other suspect, going so far as to lie about witnesses? What does this tell us about who this person might be? One informed and reasonable speculation is that this other suspect was an informant connected either to the FBI or other federal authorities. If this were true, the FBI would have a reason to conceal his existence.
FBI documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) give credence to this theory. Generated during the FBI’s interviews with Terry Nichols in 2005, these documents say that Nichols was scheduled to be interviewed by then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who was chairing a subcommittee tasked with writing a report on terrorism.
In a memo dated June 24, 2005, the FBI writes that, “DTOU [Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit] expressed concern regarding John Doe #2’s name surfacing during the congressman’s interview.”11Memo from FBI Denver Squad 12 to Director FBI, re Terry Lynn Nichols. June 24th, 2005. pp 11 The DTOU is the FBI unit responsible for running informants and sting operations in terrorism cases. If John Doe #2 doesn’t exist, why would the FBI’s DTOU be worried? In a separate email, the FBI’s counterterrorism (CTD) division writes that they “share DTOU’s concern about the John Doe #2 information.”12FBI email from [REDACTED] FBI Denver to [REDACTED] FBI CTD re: Congressman Rohrabacher’s interview of Terry Nichols, 27 May 2005 Why so much caution over a person that the FBI insists isn’t real?
The only scenario that makes sense is that the second suspect pegged by eyewitnesses, John Doe #2, was a federal informant. You can imagine the concern that would follow after FBI investigators discovered that the second person they were seeking was, in fact, part of their ongoing operations. This constitutes a strong motive to cover-up and obscure John Doe #2 at all costs to avoid embarrassment. Ask any retired agent, and they’ll tell you candidly that the biggest sin one can be guilty of at the FBI is embarrassing the bureau. It is only within the context of this unwritten rule that the behavior and statements of the FBI begin to make sense.
Bob Ricks Says: Nothing To See Here
Weldon Kennedy isn’t the only FBI official who has misled the public. Bob Ricks, former Special Agent in charge of the Oklahoma City FBI field office, made some curious statements to the Daily Oklahoman newspaper in October 1995. Ricks had just retired from the FBI, and the same week he left the bureau he granted an interview where he made claims we now know to be entirely false. The piece was headlined “Ricks Blames Curbs for Intelligence Gaps,”13Randy Ellis, and Diana Baldwin. “Ricks Blames Curbs for Intelligence Gaps.” The Oklahoman, 1 Oct. 1995. and has the former agent informing us that the FBI had no active counterintelligence investigations at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing. Why would Bob Ricks lie about that?
Ricks claimed that meddlesome oversight by Congress had hamstrung the FBI and rendered them incapable of gathering intelligence due to excessive red tape. He cited the FBI’s investigation of communist front groups in the 1970s, saying that “following the congressional hearings there, that pretty much took us out of the intelligence business (in the mid-1980s).” In response to criticism, Ricks claims that “we buried our head in the sand.”
His interview’s overall theme was to suggest that the FBI was unprepared for the Oklahoma City bombing because they could not—or would not—carry out intelligence-gathering operations targeting radicals. This is not true. The FBI possessed a vast network of intelligence-gathering tools at their disposal in 1995. They had confidential informants (Cis) and undercover agents (UCAs) infiltrating radical groups.14R.M. Schneiderman. “I Was an Undercover White Supremacist.” Newsweek, Nov. 2011, p. 38. They had pen-register and trap-and-trace mechanisms on the phones of specific targets that recorded inbound and outbound phone numbers.15The State of Oklahoma vs. Terry Nichols, № F-2004-68 (District Court of Pittsburg County), Terry Nichols Motion to Dismiss Based on State’s Failure to Comply w. Brady vs. Maryland, April 12 2004. They had cooperating witnesses in ongoing investigations. All of these tools allowed the FBI to infiltrate and monitor the rightwing, while available evidence indicates they actively used these methods.
In the years leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing, the FBI instituted a “Major Case Domestic Security/Terrorism Group 1 Undercover Operation” called PATCON that targeted militias and other right-wing radicals.16Schneiderman 38-48. A “Group 1 Major Case Undercover Operation” is a big deal at the bureau. It requires continual funding authorizations (based on operational performance), in-place undercover operatives, and is signed-off on by an undercover review committee. The operation’s name, PATCON, was FBI shorthand for “Patriot Conspiracy.”
At the time of Ricks’ comments to the Oklahoman, PATCON was a tightly held secret at the FBI. It would be over a decade before the operation was exposed, and its full scope is still shrouded in mystery. What can be said, based on documents released via FOIA, is that the FBI operation had infiltrated three right-wing groups located across the country with several undercover informants. They had even established their own phony “front groups” whose purpose was to network with targets. One front, a group dubbed the “Veterans Aryan Movement” (or VAM), had an agent posing as an armored car robber with connections to racist groups.17Ibid.
The FBI’s undercover agents and informants, connect to the various PATCON front groups, reported detailed intelligence on their targets, which included people and radical organizations with ideologies similar to Timothy McVeigh’s. One example is an investigation into the black-market sale of Stinger missiles and stolen military-grade night-vision goggles, items that were available for sale to mercenary groups throughout the country in the early 1990s.18Berger, J.M. “PATCON Revealed: An Exclusive Look Inside The FBI’s Secret War With the Militia Movement” Intelwire. Oct. 8, 2007; Berger, J.M. “Patriot Games: How the FBI spent a decade hunting white supremacists and missed Timothy McVeigh” Foreign Policy. April 18, 2012 Another example includes undercover PATCON agents targeting the Texas Reserve Militia/Texas Light Infantry Brigade, a group based in Texas with links to white supremacist figures like Louis Beam. During the same period, undercover PATCON agents targeted the American Pistol and Rifle Association, run by John L. Grady. Another figure targeted by PATCON was Tom Posey, who ran an outfit called Civilian Material Assistance (CMA), an American paramilitary group that in the 1980s had connections to shadowy Iran-Contra figures. All of these examples show that through the branches of the PATCON operation, the FBI had a vast intelligence-gathering apparatus–the exact opposite of what Ricks said in October 1995.19Ibid.
Of course, at the time of Ricks’ comments, the operation was a guarded secret. It’s clear in retrospect that he was lying; the FBI not only had active intelligence-gathering operations, but one that was tailor-made for inciting and entrapping people like Timothy McVeigh. What was Bob Ricks’ intention when he went to the newspaper and covered up the existence of PATCON? His last act of service to the bureau, rendered unto them the same week Ricks retired, was to tell the press preemptively that something like PATCON didn’t exist.
In effect, Ricks was claiming ‘Nothing to see here, we’re not doing anything that could conceivably be connected to McVeigh.’ Now knowing that this was a lie, we must ask what Ricks was protecting when he volunteered to falsely answer a question he hadn’t yet been asked. If this deliberate deception is any indicator—remember, no matter how clumsy, every obfuscation serves a purpose—there is reason to suspect a connection between PATCON and the Oklahoma City bombing. That theory is corroborated by one of the operation’s undercover assets.
The week of the bombing, John Matthews was sitting at home with his father watching television coverage. Matthews had worked for the FBI as an undercover PATCON agent and had his story told in Newsweek, headlined “I Was an Undercover White Supremacist.” The original article contained a passage about Timothy McVeigh. Newsweek editors cut this, and many other sensitive details, from the published piece for reasons that are still unclear. The original, unedited article states that when Matthews saw McVeigh’s face on television, he recognized him.20R.M. Schneiderman. “I Was an Undercover White Supremacist.” Newsweek, Nov. 2011, Unedited Original Draft, obtained from the writer via researcher Roger Charles.
Years before the bombing, when John Matthews had infiltrated the Texas Reserve Militia, he had attended one of their many weekend paramilitary training exercises. Matthews says that it was there, at a ranch in San Saba, Texas, that he met a tall, skinny ex-soldier with a buzzcut named Tim.21Ibid. The veteran was accompanied by a buck-toothed man with a German accent named “Andy.”22Ibid. Note: the black-haired man with a German accent named “Andy” is widely believed to have been German national Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was indeed socializing with the Texas Reserve Militia/Texas Light Infantry around the time Matthews says he saw him at the San Saba ranch with McVeigh and he was later kicked out of the group after some members strongly felt that he was an undercover informant or provocateur. Strassmeir’s story is a long one, for details concerning his time with the TLI/TRM see also the following sources: J.D. Cash. “FBI Says Strassmeir Was Government Operative.” McCurtain Gazette, 14 Jul. 1996; J.D. Cash and Roger Charles. “FBI Document Links Former Green Beret To McVeigh, Bombing.” McCurtain Gazette, 31 Aug. 2005.
Regarding McVeigh, Matthews said “he [Tim] was a nobody. Just another ex-soldier, but I remember his face. He was at one of the meetings, where a bunch of [stolen] ammunition was brought in from Fort Hood.”23Ibid. Matthews informed his FBI handler, Don Jarrett, that he had seen McVeigh at the ranch training with the Texas Reserve Militia. Jarrett told him, “Don’t worry, we got it covered.”24Ibid. Yet McVeigh’s crossed path with PATCON was never released and was even scrubbed from the Newsweek report. Was this indeed “covered,” as Jarrett had promised, or was it covered-up?
Was Ricks’ lie about intelligence operations related to Weldon Kennedy’s lie about having no eyewitnesses? Recall that all of the witnesses saw a still-unidentified man with McVeigh. Was John Doe #2 an FBI informant or asset? Is this what the FBI is hiding when it denies they were carrying out intelligence-gathering operations? How closely related are lies from the two agents charged with supervising the investigation of the bombing?
Weldon Kennedy’s assertion that the FBI would have to build its prosecution on forensic evidence due to the non-existence of witnesses amounted, in effect, to two different misdeeds. The first, of course, was saying there were no witnesses. The second is what Kennedy left out of his statement; not only would the FBI rely on forensic evidence, but it would also use fabricated evidence to bolster its case.
FBI forensic scientist Dr. Frederic Whitehurst first raised concerns about unscientific practices occurring at the FBI crime lab, after which an extensive investigation discovered fabricated evidence used in the Oklahoma City bombing case.25Kelly, John and Phillip Wearne. Tainting Evidence: Behind the Scandals at the FBI Crime Lab. Free Press, 1998. Notes: The Wearne book documents the Whitehurst story in great detail. From 1986 to 1998, Whitehurst served as one of the crime lab’s supervisory special agents, where he was widely considered the leading authority on explosives and explosive residue. Possessing a Ph. D. in chemistry from Duke University and a J. D. from Georgetown University, Dr. Whitehurst was the highest qualified analyst in the crime lab at the time, with qualifications often surpassing his superiors. For example, the Chemistry & Toxicology Unit’s chief, Roger Martz, did not have a degree.26Peter Israel, Stephen Jones. Others Unknown: Timothy Mcveigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing Conspiracy. PublicAffairs, 1998, 2001. Kindle Edition. pp 278-280. Notes: The Jones book summarizes the Whitehurst/FBI crime lab scandal very well. Details concerning Whitehurst’s peers lack of degrees and qualifications were noted in this book. Likewise, the head of the crime lab’s Explosives Unit, David Williams, had a degree in zoology and made his bones not in academia, but through serving time in the bomb squad.27Ibid. Whereas Dr. Whitehurst was a scientist first and foremost. The crux of the doctor’s complaints was that his crime lab peers and supervisors were dedicated less to science than they were securing successful prosecutions—even if that meant violating the standards of any respectable scientist.
Dr. Whitehurst began observing and documenting practices at the crime lab that constituted notable examples of misconduct. As a whistleblower, he was treated severely. He was first fired by the FBI, who ultimately settled in court, paying him $1.2 million and an undisclosed sum for damages. In addition, the Justice Department’s Inspector General investigated the crime lab and produced a damning report. The IG examined several high-profile FBI cases—including the Oklahoma City bombing—and concluded that the crime lab’s investigation contained “serious flaws,” used “unscientific” practices, and had made “unjustified” conclusions which “lacked scientific foundation.”28Ibid, 281. Notes: The Inspector General’s report on FBI crime lab is quoted verbatim in the Jones book. See the full report here: USDOJ/OIG Special Report: The FBI Laboratory: An Investigation into Laboratory Practices and Alleged Misconduct in Explosives-Related and Other Cases (April 1997) <https://oig.justice.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/special/9704a/index.htm>
The FBI had assigned to the Oklahoma City bombing case the same crime lab investigators who had worked on the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. Explosives Unit chief David Williams headed up the lab’s investigation, and he chose Steven Burmeister as his lead forensic examiner. The IG stated that Burmeister had fraudulently altered his reports at the direction of his supervisor, Williams. In one report, concerning Timothy McVeigh’s pocketknife, Burmeister initially wrote that “the presence of PETN [explosives] could not be confirmed.” He later altered the report to say “traces of PETN were located on specimen.”29Ibid, 330. A qualified uncertainty was turned into a forensic certainty, resulting in a report containing false information that was used as evidence at the trial. Just as Dr. Whitehurst had documented, the FBI fabricated evidence for prosecutors—not an anomaly in their behavior, but a pattern. The IG report confirmed that among the cases it examined, the errors “were all tilted in such a way as to incriminate the defendants.”30Ibid, 281-282.
The IG concluded that David Williams ought to be reassigned to another unit because he “lacks objectivity, judgment, and scientific knowledge.” This was one of several reassignments and changes recommended in the IG report, all necessary to reform the crime lab’s practices. As a result of Dr. Whitehurst’s whistleblowing and the subsequent investigation, the FBI was forced to adopt forty different reforms to ensure forensic reliability. The IG report impeached not only the credibility of the FBI crime lab, but the entire bureau. Even with the imposition of reforms, with that credibility gone, how are we expected to trust the FBI’s work in other areas of the investigation? How far did the corruption extend?
It is appalling that such a thing could happen in the highest-level investigation ever carried out by the United States’ premier law enforcement agency. Questions of integrity aside, fabricating evidence also displays an immense arrogance. The FBI was willing to risk a successful prosecution of Timothy McVeigh, when fabricating evidence wasn’t necessary to win a conviction; the extent of the available evidence, even without eyewitnesses, would have been enough to easily secure a conviction. So why do it?
The answer appears to be either ‘because we can,’ or worse, ‘because that’s how we do things.’ The evidence supporting the latter conclusion is plentiful, since criminal activity by the feds goes beyond Oklahoma City. One needs only to look at other high-profile FBI cases. For example, in the espionage case against defense contractor Christopher Boyce and his childhood friend Daulton Lee, the FBI claimed it had recovered Lee’s fingerprints from the secure “black vault” at TRW Inc.31Boyce, Christopher. American Sons: The Untold Story of the Falcon and the Snowman (40th Anniversary Edition). Glass Spider Publishing, 2018. Kindle Edition. pp 98-99. The black vault was where Boyce made copies of sensitive documents that Lee then hand-delivered to the KGB in Mexico City. One problem: Daulton Lee had never in his life been on TRW Inc. property, much less made his way to the highly secure black vault.32Ibid, 100. This inconvenient fact did not stop the FBI as they apparently fabricated Daulton Lee’s fingerprints to use as a “trump card” in case the evidence against him wasn’t enough to convict. Like McVeigh, there was enough legitimate evidence against both Boyce and Lee to make any fabrication unnecessary, to say nothing of egregious. But ‘that’s how we do things.’
Acting on a tip, in 2005 the FBI raided the former Kansas residence of convicted bomber Terry Nichols, where they seized a cache of explosives. Nichols told the FBI in interviews that among the carefully wrapped and preserved explosives they would find the fingerprints of an unindicted co-conspirator in the bombing. Unfortunately, we’ll never know whether this was true. The FBI—grudgingly acting on Nichols’ tip—destroyed most of the evidence.
Only after enduring pressure from congressional staffers and at least one congressman did the FBI act, taking over two years to produce a report on the results of the raid. The report, dated February 21, 2008, noted that a fingerprint—named redacted—was lifted from a book found among the explosive cache. The inventory—seventy kinestik binary explosives, detonators, fuses, and flares—was destroyed, along with any fingerprint evidence.33FBI Lab Took Nearly Three Years to Analyze Terry Nichols Bomb Cache. Intelwire. 3 Feb. 2011 <http://news.intelwire.com/2011/02/fbi-lab-took-nearly-three-years-to.html>
In his 2005 interviews with the bureau, Terry Nichols said that the fingerprints of Roger Moore and other bombing conspirators would be found among items in the explosives cache. Despite this indication, the FBI crime lab made no identification in their reports. However, in a December 2012 interview on The Scott Horton Show, investigator Roger Charles suggested that the FBI did recover prints from the stashed explosives. Charles explained that a highly placed FBI official told Deputy Bureau Chief of the Associated Press John Solomon that four sets of fingerprints were discovered: Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Roger Moore, and Richard Lee Guthrie.34Interview with Roger G. Charles. The Scott Horton Show, 4 Dec. 2012.
Guthrie, who died in prison in 1996, was a leading figure in the Aryan Republican Army (ARA), a neo-Nazi bank robbery gang, and has long been suspected of possible involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing plot. Likewise, in reports produced by McCurtain Gazette reporter J. D. Cash and Indiana criminology professor Mark Hamm, they suggest that McVeigh might have been involved in one or more of the ARA bank robberies. One of the stick ups was carried out on September 21, 1994 in Overland Park, Kansas. According to Cash, “witnesses provided a sketch of him [one of the robbers], you look at it, and there’s no question it’s McVeigh.”35Interview with J.D. Cash. The Scott Horton Show, 22 Jul. 2005. Mark Hamm agrees, telling Cash, “I believe that sketch of the other subject is Timothy McVeigh and not [Peter] Langan. It’s almost a perfect likeness of McVeigh.”36J.D. Cash and Roger Chales. “Sketch could link McVeigh with Aryan Nations’ plot.” McCurtain Daily Gazette, 6 Dec. 2003
Another ARA bank robbery that Timothy McVeigh may have participated in occurred at the Third Federal Savings and Loan in Middleburg Heights, Ohio on December 9th, 1994. On December 5th, members of the ARA checked into a motel near Kent, Ohio. FBI investigators, suspecting that McVeigh was linked to the robbery, analyzed video footage from the crime in an attempt at identification. Reportedly, the FBI crime lab’s comparison of McVeigh and he bank surveillance video was inconclusive. Unfortunately, we can no longer examine the video because it was destroyed by the FBI in 1999, despite evidentiary rules to the contrary.
The FBI also destroyed blasting caps wrapped in Christmas paper recovered from the gang’s safehouse in Ohio. According to the ARA’s co-founder, Peter Langan, those blasting caps were obtained from Timothy McVeigh.37J.D. Cash. “National Media Barred from Interviewing Inmates About OKC Bombing.” McCurtain Gazette, 1 May 2003; Affidavit Peter Langan, 9 Apr. 2007. Can we trust the FBI’s word that Langan is lying, and that neither the caps nor the surveillance video was connected to McVeigh? The FBI’s bureaucratic culture is to collect and preserve every last scrap of paper or conceivable bit of evidence. If something is destroyed, it is to serve a purpose.
The FBI also managed to destroy crucial audio dispatch tape recordings and transcripts that had been obtained during the investigation. In a November 1995 interview, Assistant Chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department Jon Hansen said that the fire department had received a call from the FBI on the Friday before the bombing. The FBI warned them that there might be an imminent terrorist attack, and to maintain heightened security levels. When asked if the fire department had kept a recording the call, Hansen said that “all the transmission tapes have been erased. We made a boo-boo.”38J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “Bombing Trial Judges Absence on Day of Blast ‘an Amazing Coincidence.” McCurtain Gazette, 1 Dec. 1995. A boo-boo? Really?
During his trial, McVeigh’s defense team requested that the FBI provide all transcripts and transmissions related to Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, and two weeks prior. The FBI glibly responded to this request by informing them that these tapes and transcripts were “accidentally destroyed.”39Painting, Wendy S. Aberration in the Heartland of the Real: The Secret Lives of Timothy McVeigh (Kindle Location 1150). Trine Day. Kindle Edition. Was this another “boo-boo?” Or was this destruction of key evidence intentional? The reader can make an informed decision.
McVeigh’s defense team also made a request for transcripts of the Oklahoma City Police Department dispatch tapes, which would have included the APB that police issued on April 19 for a brown truck connected to the bombing. The FBI responded that these too had been “accidentally destroyed.”40Ibid. Once again, we find a convenient “accident” that invariably strengthens the FBI’s narrative of the bombing.
Any lawyer will tell you that your case is only as good as the evidence it’s based on. The evidence in a criminal case must be carefully preserved with a documented chain of custody; nothing should be destroyed or otherwise mishandled. It appears, however, to have been commonplace in the Oklahoma City investigation. The handful of examples highlighted above show a pattern of behavior that, when combined with the conclusions of the IG report on the FBI crime lab, indicates that the destruction and fabrication of evidence was part of an overall effort to conceal specific facts in order to slant the case in favor of the prosecution. We must ask: what is being concealed by this pattern, and what common denominators exist in each instance where evidence was mishandled, destroyed, or fabricated?
ATF: ‘We Weren’t There’
On the morning of April 19, 1995, several ordinary Oklahomans had disturbing encounters with ATF agents the Murrah Building blast site during the subsequent rescue operations. These individuals include rescue volunteers and emergency first responders who were triaging the wounded while working with ambulance and rescue personnel. Several of these people testified before a grand jury impaneled to investigating the bombing what ATF agents had told them that morning.
Prior to testifying, these witness accounts were published in the McCurtain Gazette newspaper by award-winning journalist J. D. Cash. Three of their statements were broadcast on Oklahoma City television station KFOR-TV on September 12, 1995. The first two witnesses interviewed by KFOR’s Brad Edwards were Bruce Shaw and his supervisor, Tony Brasier. Shaw’s wife had worked at the Murrah Building, and upon hearing about the bombing, Shaw and Brasier immediately left work to assist in rescue efforts. Arriving at the blast site, Shaw spotted an ATF agent among those gathered, and he approached to inquire about rescue efforts. Shaw explained that his wife worked in the federal credit union located in the building. The couple knew many of the ATF personnel who worked at the Murrah Buidling, and Shaw informed the unfamiliar agent, “I’ve got to find some of the local ATF agents to help me find her…They know me.”
Bruce Shaw recounted that the ATF agent he spoke to attempted to reach someone on a two-way radio but couldn’t get a response. “He said they were in debriefing, that none of the agents had been in there. They’d been tipped by their pagers not to come in to work that day. Plain as day out of his mouth. Those were the words he said.”41J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “Did ATF Expect Bomb Blast Earlier, Let Down Its Guard?” McCurtain Daily Gazette. 16 May 1996; Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee. The Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, 2001. pp 270-272 Shaw’s supervisor, Tony Brasier, had been standing next to his subordinate and the agent when this discussion occurred. Brasier affirmed on-camera to KFOR that the agent had indeed said that the ATF had been “tipped off by the pagers not to come in to work that day.”
A third witness, Katherine Mallette, was interviewed by the television station on the September 12 broadcast. Mallette was an emergency medical technician with the Emergency Medical Service Authority (EMSA) and participated in rescue efforts the morning of April 19. She stated that as she was prepping an ambulance to transport victims to area hospitals, two ATF agents walked by, and she overheard their discussion. One agent said to the other, “Is this why we got the page not to come in today?” Mallette attested to this disturbing exchange on-camera for KFOR, and later provided the Oklahoma Bombing Investigative Committee a signed affidavit attesting to what she had seen. 42The Final Report on the Bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, 2001. pp 270-272
A second rescue worker, Tiffany Bible, was a paramedic with the EMSA who participated in rescue efforts that morning. Bible’s first impression was that there was some sort of natural gas explosion, and when she approached an ATF agent on-site, she asked how a gas explosion could have caused so much damage.
The agent told her that it was not a gas explosion, but a truck-bomb. This exchange occurred only five minutes after the blast. Knowing that the ATF was housed in the Murrah Building, Bible expressed her concern for the agent’s co-workers. He responded that, “No, we weren’t in there today.”43Ibid, p 342. Like the other witnesses, Bible testified to this encounter in an affidavit submitted to the grand jury impaneled to investigate the bombing.
Why was the ATF not at work on the morning of April 19, 1995? The rescue workers’ accounts—aired on television and reported in newspapers—caused the ATF to panic and issue statements later proven to be lies. The ATF agents’ admissions that they were not in the building, combined with the agency’s later explicit denials, may contribute to understanding a fundamental truth about the bombing. The ATF’s lies and contradictions can, like the FBI’s, be interpreted in a wider context.
To counter what the ATF said were “widespread rumors” that agents had evacuated the Murrah Building before the blast, the agency acted in a typical bureaucratic fashion: they issued a press release.44J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “ATF’s Explanation Disputed.” McCurtain Sunday Gazette, 30 Jul. 1995. In the May 23, 1995 press release, ATF Special Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas regional office Lester Martz claimed that Oklahoma City ATF agent Alex McCauley and DEA agent David Schickendanz were trapped in the building’s elevator when the truck-bomb exploded. According to Martz, McCauley and Schickendanz were both victims and heroes, carrying out a fantastical escape to help others who laid dying around them.45Ibid. Martz asserted that the elevator dropped in a free-fall from the eighth floor to the third, where the two men remained trapped. In this account, McCauley and Schickendanz escaped from the elevator’s smoking rubble only after forcing the doors open. This story is, by all measures, entirely fictional.
In the aftermath of the bombing, General Services Administration (GSA) and Midwestern Elevator Company inspectors investigated the blast site and the building’s elevators. The Midwestern technicians “found that five of the six elevators were stopped between floors with their doors blown inward, which caused the safety mechanisms to freeze them in place.”46Ibid. Duane James, one of the elevator maintenance technicians, was quoted saying, “Once that occurs, the doors cannot be opened—period.” James said that the elevators have safety switches that prevent excessive speed, and that he determined none of the safety switches had been tripped.47The Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, pp 272.
In their final report, the Oklahoma Bombing Investigative Committee wrote that, “GSA inspectors and Midwestern technicians have stated in interviews and in sworn affidavits and/or testimony that there was no evidence of (1) free-falling elevators, (2) persons in any of the elevators who then forced their way out, or (3) failure of the safety mechanisms built into the system.”48Ibid. In other words, Lester Martz’s heroic account of federal agents was an impossible lie. Technician Duane James put it this way: “If you fell six floors and it was a free fall, it’d be like jumping out a six-story building. I’d ask them how long they were in the hospital and how lucky they were to survive.”49Ibid.
After the May 23 press release featuring this cock-and-bull story, the ATF issued several other stories to account for their agents’ whereabouts. The narrative kept changing; this indicates both incompetence and dishonesty, a hasty and ill-formed plan to conceal the truth. For example, on the day of the bombing the ATF’s public affairs spokesperson in Washington D.C. claimed that the agency had 20 agents on duty. When it became apparent this was false, ATF agent Luke Franey volunteered to bombing victim Glenn Wilburn that the agents were “out on assignment,” while “some didn’t come in because they were out of town.”50J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “More Evidence Suggests Prior Knowledge of OKC Bombing.” McCurtain Sunday Gazette. 12 May 1996. In December 1995, ATF Dallas chief Lester Martz said that the missing agents were involved in an all-night “surveillance operation.”51Ibid. With all of these varying and stories to account for the lack of ATF agents in the Murrah Building that day, it is difficult to know where the lies end and the truth begins.
The ATF also issued contradictory statements about their level of situational awareness on April 19, 1995. When asked whether the agency was aware of the date’s significance—it was the two-year anniversary of the Waco massacre—agent Luke Franey flatly denied that the ATF was the least bit concerned. He told Glenn Wilburn that “No, there was no alert or any concern on our part about the significance of that day.”52Ibid. Meanwhile, ATF Director John Magaw told CNN he had been “very concerned about that day and issued memos to all of our field offices,” telling them that “they were put on alert.”53Ibid. These conflicting explanations demonstrate that ATF officials had not coordinated their responses.
The ATF’s many denials and lies about their whereabouts on April 19 share a common theme: to hide the fact that they knew something and were not at work that day. The contradictions indicate that something about their absence is important enough to conceal no matter how outrageous the cover story. What was it? Is it related to the FBI’s deceptions?
The Road to Oklahoma City
The ATF is not the only federal agency whose high-level officials concocted fictional stories about the event of April 19, 1995. There is a similar case that could possibly be related to the ATF agents’ whereabouts during the bombing.
The Special Agent-in-Charge of the Dallas FBI office, and later in charge of the crime scene in Oklahoma, was Danny Coulson. Coulson was a veteran of the FBI with a long history in dealing with terrorism. Over a decade before the bombing, he was attached to the FBI Hostage Rescue Team (which he founded) when they took down Robert J. Matthews of The Order. Coulson managed and successfully negotiated the siege on the Covenant, Sword, and Arm of the Lord radical group on April 19, 1985. His whole career, Coulson had presided over events whose history was inextricably linked to the ideology of Timothy McVeigh—he was, in fact, the perfect person to lead the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. However, for reasons not yet clear, he was not selected for that job.
In Coulson’s memoir, No Heroes, he recounted the morning of April 19, 1995. He was at home in Texas when he received a page from John O’Neil at the FBI headquarters’ anti-terrorism center.54Coulson, Danny. No Heroes: Inside the FBI’s Secret Counter-Terror Force. Simon and Schuster, 1999. O’Neil broke the news to him: the Alfred P. Murrah Building had been bombed. Coulson writes that O’Neil asked him to catch the next flight to Oklahoma City. What played out next is worthy of a Hollywood film. Coulson claims that there were no flights out of Texas due to inclement weather, so he fetched his badge and gun and hit the road. Coulson sped off to Oklahoma City, driving through a furious rainstorm, his wiper-blades swiveling on the windshield as lightning strikes peppered Texas’ pastures and fields in his rear-view mirror. The FBI’s top anti-terrorism agent was on his way.
Coulson’s biographical account cannot be verified, since John O’Neil died in the 9/11 attacks. However, cracks have emerged over the years that raise serious questions about Coulson’s recollection of events. Firstly, in an interview with C-SPAN’s BookTV in 1999 to promote his memoir, Coulson said that he was home eating breakfast when he “heard on the television” about the bombing in Oklahoma City.55C-Span BookTV appearance, Danny Coulson, Inside the FBI’s Secret Counter-Terror Force (1999). < https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuRyfZLy8ew> Since his presentation was about his book, you would have expected Coulson to describe events the same, yet the story differed ever so slightly. Then, years later, journalist J. D. Cash obtained Danny Coulson’s hotel receipt for April 19, 1995. The receipt shows that Coulson checked into an Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City twenty minutes after midnight on the 19th.56J.D. Cash. “Receipt Shows Head of FBI Anti-Terrorism Task Force in OKC Hours Before Blast.” McCurtain Daily Gazette, 21 Jan. 2002; “FBI Document Raises Questions About Prior Knowledge in OKC bombing.” News Radio 1000 AM KTOK in OKC, 17 Jan 2002; He was in Oklahoma City nine hours before the Murrah Building was bombed.
During J. D. Cash’s research into Coulson’s movements that week, he attempted to obtain both Coulson’s and FBI official Larry Potts’ travel records from the FBI. The effort was fruitless; the bureau claims some of those travel records are “missing”—in the same manner that inconvenient evidence seems to disappear. However, Cash wrote that Coulson’s trip to Oklahoma City fits within a framework of “evidence revealing weeks of planning by an elite corps of drug and counterterrorism experts who were closely monitoring members of various far-right groups.”57Ibid. What were these “weeks of planning” related to?
Cash concluded that Coulson was working on a project that included other counterterrorism agents “monitoring” right-wing groups. What we can infer is that whatever Coulson was involved with, it was sensitive enough that he decided to create an alternative explanation about how he arrived at Oklahoma City. Coulson could have written in his book that he happened to arrive in the city the night before and left it at that. Why did he choose to lie? The likeliest reason for a cover-up would be because his reason for being in Oklahoma City was directly linked to the bombing. If that were accurate, Coulson’s motivation begins to make sense.
To make the situation even more confounding, Coulson billed his April 19 travel costs to the FBI’s MC-111 on May 16, 1995. MC-111, short for Major Case 111, is also known as VAAPCON.58Ibid. Like PATCON, VAAPCON was an FBI clandestine operation. While PATCON targeted militias and radical right-wing terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, VAAPCON targeted individuals and groups that advocated violence against abortion clinics. A report published by The Washington Post in 1996 described VAAPCON as consisting of nothing more than a thin folder of papers, with few leads, no arrests, and nothing that would conceivably put an agent of Coulson’s standing far away from his field office. At best VAAPCON might garner a few conference calls, but certainly not a flight to Oklahoma City of all places. Headlined “Abortion Clinic Violence Probe Was Over Before It Started,” the Post essentially declares VAAPCON dead in the water.59Charles W. Hall and Robert O’Harrow Jr. “Abortion Clinic Violence Probe Was Over At The Start.” Washington Post, 26 Jan. 1996.
It was this same Washington Post article that revealed the existence of VAAPCON to the public. Meaning, Coulson would have no reason to conceal such an operation in his memoir, published three years after the article. If Coulson was in Oklahoma City due to his participation in VAAPCON, he could have written that without garnering a second glance. But he didn’t do that. While Coulson might have billed his time to VAAPCON—a dead operation—on May 16, we can interpret this as an effort to conceal his actual activities at the time.
What if the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was a failure of intelligence, a sting operation gone terribly wrong that literally blew up in the FBI’s face? If this scenario is correct, it can be assumed that such a thing could never be acknowledged through travel records, much less after-action reports. The sting operation would have to remain a secret. It’s with that mind that we think back to Bob Ricks’ denial to the press in October 1995 about the existence of any intelligence operations being performed by the bureau. This theory would also explain the missing travel records of Coulson and Potts, along with Coulson erroneously billing his time to the then-defunct VAAPCON. It would give reason for Coulson to be Oklahoma City nine hours prior to the bomb’s detonation, and to lie about it in his memoir. In this scenario, if the FBI had an informant or asset within the operation—John Doe #2—that would explain the agency’s continual, adamant denial about the existence of a second suspect. It would also corroborate the FBI Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit’s “worry” and “concern” about John Doe #2’s identity being divulged to congressional investigators in 2005.
While this theory exists in the realm of speculation and conjecture, what can be said with certainty is that this scenario is the only one that makes sense given the totality of evidence. What’s more, if this were the case, it would not be the first time an FBI intelligence-gathering operation was tied into plot through informants.
Real Explosives, Real Victims
Roger Charles was a co-author of the 2012 book Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed and Why It Still Matters. In the book and a 2007 BBC production, Charles lays out the evidence indicating that authorities had informants close the criminal conspiracy behind the bombing.60Andrew Gumbel and Roger Charles. Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed and Why It Still Matters. HarperCollins, 2012; The Conspiracy Files: Oklahoma City, BBC. 4 Mar. 2007. If he is correct, it wouldn’t be the first time. Just two years before Oklahoma City, an almost identical situation played out in the first attack on the World Trade Center:
Terrorists loaded a rental truck with an ANFO bomb.
A building full of civilians was the target.
The FBI had an informant inside the operation.
The FBI failed to stop the bombing, with their focus being in favor of continued intelligence gathering.
The FBI has denied it had any advance warning of the bombing, or that it was involved in a sting operation in Oklahoma City. Bureau flunky Jon Hersley unconvincingly proclaimed that, “We don’t play games with people’s lives like that.”61The Conspiracy Files: Oklahoma City, BBC. 4 Mar. 2007. The denials, however, don’t line up with the facts.
The FBI informant involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, Emad Salem, recorded his conversations with his agency handlers. The recordings show that the FBI was more interested in intelligence-gathering—of the sort Bob Ricks claims the FBI wasn’t doing—than stopping the plot in its tracks.62Ralph Blumenthal. “Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast.” New York Times, 28 Oct. 1993. Salem suggested replacing the lives explosives that were eventually used in the bomb with harmless materials. Instead of taking his route, Salem’s handlers wanted him to wear a microphone and continue to gather vital intelligence. Salem balked at wearing a wire—while also asking the FBI to pay him more money. The feds lost Salem as an informant, while the World Trade Center bomb plot continued and matured after Ramzi Yousef came on-board with his bomb-making expertise. The end result was six people dead and 1,000 injured when the bombers attacked the towers.
The FBI’s failure to know when and where the World Trade Center attack would take place was a direct result of their inability to handle Emad Salem properly. In this example, we have the FBI close enough to a bomb plot that they had a chance to capture the conspirators early on but bungling it by not handling their informant with more finesse.
In his denial that any similar operation occurred in Oklahoma City, Agent Hersley said, “If we had any information beforehand from any informants about a potential bombing of a federal building, I can assure you that we would have taken immediate action.” That wasn’t the case, however, in 1993. The opposite is true, in fact. Given the past record of the FBI, can we trust Hersley? Was he lying–alongside Weldon Kennedy, Bob Ricks, and Danny Coulson–to protect secrets?
Throughout the late 1980s and into the early 1990s, federal agents targeted former neo-Nazi Johnny Bangerter, who was the center of the same sort of groups targeted by the FBI’s PATCON operation. Bangerter was present at the siege of Ruby Ridge and knew Randy Weaver personally. He said that in retrospect, the most striking thing about being approached by informants and undercover agents was that they always used “real explosives. Real machine guns. It was always real stuff. Very dangerous.”63Interview with author via phone, Johnny Bangerter. August 2020 Bangerter made clear that not only did these federal agents play with people’s lives, but they did so using a kind of playbook: always with a truck-bomb, always with real explosives, and always with provocateurs advocating for violence in the most overt manner. With some sadness in his voice, Bangerter added that “there were real victims, too.”
When the FBI says that “we don’t play games with people’s lives like that,” or insists that the bombing could not possibly have been “a sting gone wrong,” we’re meant to take their word for it. But the question is, can we? When the facts are examined, we find ourselves in a situation where the FBI has no credibility. They lie, they fabricate and destroy evidence. They are akin to the boy who cried wolf: it is reasonable to be skeptical of their denials based on their past behavior. Having witnessed the same sort of conduct, and being fed the same kind of lies, we can reach conclusions on what the truth might be.
It is a truth that resembles a failed sting operation, an informant the FBI says doesn’t exist, but that twenty-four people saw, and a mountain of other evidence. Whereas Jon Hersley’s “truth” that the FBI wouldn’t do this is equivalent to the “truth” that there are no eyewitnesses. Or the “truth” that the FBI had no intelligence-gathering operations. Or the “truth” that the ATF showed up for work on April 19, 1995. Or the “truth” that ATF agents karate-chopped their way out of wrecked elevators to save lives. Or the “truth” that Danny Coulson drove through a rainstorm to reach Oklahoma City after the bomb blast.
It’s all the truth because the FBI says so. And we can trust the FBI, can’t we?
Richard Booth is an independent citizen journalist and member of the Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). A student of the OKC bombing case since 1995, Richard began researching the Oklahoma City bombing in earnest in 2012 and is currently writing a book about the case. Richard has appeared on podcasts to discuss his interest, highlighting areas that warrant additional research, and expressing the need for more students to actively research this case. In April 2020, Richard donated his archive of research materials—thousands of news reports, articles, magazine pieces, FBI documents, ATF documents, court records and trial transcripts to The Libertarian Institute. You can find this archive here.
Cassville is located in the extreme southwest of Missouri, sitting adjacent to the northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas state borders. It’s about an hour away from the nearby cities of Joplin and Carthage and about two and a half hours, 130 miles, from Elohim City, Oklahoma.
It was in Cassville that William Maloney operated a real estate brokerage office. In the fall of 1994, Maloney had advertised for sale forty acres of property in the Ozark Mountains. Sometime from October 25th to 27th, 1994, Maloney’s office received a phone call inquiring about that property.
The caller expressed an interest in purchasing the property and Maloney wrote down the caller’s name. Maloney recalled that he asked the caller to repeat his last name, and that the caller told him “McVeigh.” Maloney spelled the name back to the caller, saying “M-C-V-E-Y.” According to Maloney, the caller responded “That’s close enough.”
Thus begins William Maloney’s fateful encounter with Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The phone call wouldn’t be the last time that Maloney heard from McVeigh. In fact, he would come face to face with the bomber and co-conspirator Terry Nichols, with a third accomplice, in the first week of November.
William Maloney and Joe Davidson were working at Maloney’s realty office on the morning of November 2nd, 1994 when three men in a white late 70’s model Monte Carlo pulled into the parking lot. One man remained in the vehicle while the other two got out and went inside.
The two men who went inside the office introduced themselves to Bill Maloney as Bob Jacquez and Terry Nichols. Maloney related that “they was just nice and calm,” just a couple of potential buyers as far as Maloney was concerned. After a few minutes of discussion the third man who had stayed in the car at first finally came into the office and introduced himself as Tim. The group was there, they told Maloney, to discuss their mutual interest in the forty acre parcel in the Ozarks that McVeigh had called about two weeks prior.
During the conversation, Maloney observed that it appeared Jacquez was the leader of group, saying “Jacquez was very articulate; he was smart. He did about all the talking, and during that period of time, he was in charge. He was the boss man.” Maloney’s business partner, Joe Davidson, was equally observant of the scene, saying “He [Jacquez] seemed to be the one that was in control and in charge of what was going on.” The unusual trio of supposed buyers did not tell Bill Maloney why they were interested in buying land that had been advertised as “in the middle of nowhere, at the end of a rough road, at the bottom of a hollow” with the addendum that “there may be a cave.”
Maloney said that at the time he was curious what the men were interested in, asking the question “Were they looking for a place to hide?” Joe Davidson noted that the men chuckled at the question but provided no verbal response. Later, Oklahoma FBI agent Bob Ricks would express a similar sentiment to a documentary film crew:
“The theory there was that Timothy McVeigh was searching for a place to perhaps have a hide-out and Robert Jacquez was utilized to perhaps obtain property in Missouri. It’s very remote terrain, it’s terrain familiar — there are a lot of right wing groups around there, from Elohim City Oklahoma to other groups in Arkansas to the Ozarks in Missouri which would be the perfect type spot.”
In discussing the geography surrounding the for-sale property, Maloney had Jacquez handle a new laminated topographical map of the area and afterwards he put the map in his safe. Maloney provided the map to the FBI during his first interview, hoping it may turn up fingerprints that could identify the man he saw as being in charge that day. It is unknown what became of this map: once it was in the FBI’s hands, it disappeared. As with the Murrah building surveillance tape videos, Maloney’s map with its possible fingerprint evidence has disappeared from the investigatory record, never to appear at trial.
Maloney told FBI Special Agent Bill Teater that Robert Jacquez was a muscular man with large biceps and a bulging neck, standing about 5’11 and said that “he looked like a military guy. I spent a long time in the service and I can pretty well spot ’em. He was real muscular; he looked maybe like a weightlifter.” Maloney’s description, given during his witness interview, was documented by the FBI in what is called a 302 report. In general, an FBI 302 report contains information about what a witness said to the interviewing Special Agent and includes whatever details the interviewing agent deems relevant to an investigation. Maloney’s 302 report details that Jacquez was wearing black pants, a black t-shirt, and olive colored hiking boots with small “suction cups” on the soles. He had a tattoo visible on his left forearm that had wings or some sort of insignia, possibly military. Jacquez had a short “flat-top” type haircut and a dark tanned complexion, described as “possibly American Indian.” This detail is notable — McVeigh was, by all accounts, a white-supremacist as were the vast majority of other potential suspects suggested as possible co-conspirators within alternative accounts of the bombing. Who was this dark skinned man, described as the evident “boss” of McVeigh?
The FBI considered Maloney and Davidson’s account significant enough to submit Maloney to a polygraph test, which he passed. The FBI also took the unusual step of placing Maloney’s secretary, Nora Young, under hypnosis in an effort to recall potentially more details about the encounter. They commissioned the “OKBOMB” task force’s sketch artist, Jean Boylan, to produce a sketch based on Maloney’s description. There was an unusual level of secrecy surrounding the sketch of the suspect, with an FBI teletype about the suspect containing the disclaimer “CAUTION: SENSITIVE INFORMATION: THIS SKETCH OF JACQUES IS ON A “NEED TO KNOW” BASIS AND HAS NEVER BEEN RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC, THE MEDIA, OR EVEN OTHER LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES. PROTECT.”
Unlike the other sketches produced for the task force, this one was not widely circulated and appears to convey a level of sensitivity and significance that is uncommon in the bombing case. One source told this writer that Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief John Solomon interviewed a senior Customs Agency rep at OKC for the investigation, and that he told Solomon that the FBI were not real concerned about John Doe #2 reports, but they were really worried about John Doe #3, or “Robert Jacquez,” getting media attention. This is obvious enough from the bureau’s unusual disclaimer that is plastered all over November 1995 teletypes concerning the suspect. The notion that Jacquez could have been connected to some sort of sensitive operation comes to mind when you consider the unusual level of secrecy surrounding the sketch, and FBI investigators’ worry over the suspect receiving media attention.
The Manhunt for “John Doe #3”
The timing of the Jacquez visit to Cassville was reason enough for FBI investigators to suspect the man was a key conspirator in the bombing plot: just three days after the visit to Cassville, McVeigh was checked into a hotel in Kent, Ohio attending the Niles Gun Show while accomplices were busy carrying out the robbery of gun dealer Roger Moore in Royal, Arkansas.
Just five days after the Cassville visit, Terry Nichols rented a storage locker in Council Grove, Kansas where many of Roger Moore’s stolen firearms were kept. The Moore robbery was directly linked to funding the Oklahoma City bombing, with $60,000 worth of guns and precious metals stolen to raise funds for the bombing.
At the time of the Cassville visit, McVeigh had spent the previous month gathering bomb components: three 55-gallon barrels of nitromethane and 2,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate had already been sourced and secured in storage lockers. So, too, had McVeigh and Nichols burglarized a quarry for over 350 pounds of Tovex high explosive and blasting caps. Clearly, whoever this Jacquez figure was, he was with McVeigh and Nichols in the middle of the bombing operation when central actions were being carried out in furtherance of the bombing conspiracy.
FBI lead investigator Danny Defenbaugh would continue the Robert Jacquez investigation for five years, much longer than the FBI’s prematurely aborted manhunt for John Doe #2. This indicates that the FBI believed that John Doe #2—a man seen at Elliott’s Body Shop with someone witnesses identified as Timothy McVeigh—was a separate and different person than the man witnesses described as Robert Jacquez and it also indicates that the FBI considered Jacquez to be of great importance given the length of time and man hours invested in investigating him.
The results of a Rocky Mountain News investigation into the Jacquez manhunt was published in the fall of 1998 and revealed that in the three years since the bombing, the FBI had been relentlessly looking for the suspect. Investigative journalist Kevin Flynn wrote that “No other name investigated in the bombing consumed nearly the time and effort the FBI spent turning the nation upside down to find him” and Flynn provided many examples, some recounted here:
Over a three year period, the FBI performed hundreds of background checks on people whose last names are Jacks, Jacques, Jacquez or Jocques.
FBI agents fanned out through 39 states, interviewing people and performing records searches related to any people whose names were variations on the name “Jacquez”
The lengths to which the FBI went when investigating Jacquez are exemplified by the investigation of a woman named Linda Jacquez from Percy, Illinois. The FBI examined records of over 1,000 personal calls made from her home in 1994. Similar records analysis was likely performed on the other hundreds of subjects whose names were Jacquez or variations thereof.
A man named Jacquez who lived in Colorado Springs was interviewed by the FBI in August 1995 because agents had found his name on a motel registration card at a Days Inn in Rogers, Arkansas dated September 5th, 1994. While the man was found to have had no connection to the bombing, some clues regarding the FBI’s interest emerge from the details: Rogers, Arkansas is located just 35 miles from Cassville, Missouri. Additionally, and perhaps significantly, a group of bank robbers that FBI investigators at one time linked to the bombing had been through Rogers, Arkansas casing armored car routes.
The FBI subpoenaed Newsweek for its subscription records on anyone named Robert Jacks, Jacques or Jocques. Other contemporary news magazines were probably similarly the recipients of targeted subpoenas.
It appears that the FBI’s all-encompassing investigation was in some respects superficial: the FBI investigated every person and conceivable record that might feature the name “Jacquez” (and variations thereof) even though “Jacquez” was probably a fake name that the man had used. Surely FBI investigators would have realized this, but nevertheless continued to track down any and all details they could related to the phony name.
Unresolved Leads and Dead Ends
Among the details uncovered when investigating Jacquez was that McVeigh buddy Michael Fortier’s former neighbor and associate Jim Rosencrans once shared a post office box with a “Robert Jacquez” in Odessa, Texas. This fact did little to contribute to understanding the man’s true identity—only denials were offered from Rosencrans with him saying that he had never heard of anyone using the name Jacquez in spite of evidently having shared a mail box with the man. Thus, this possible lead remains unresolved to the satisfaction of anyone curious enough to consider the lead possibly relevant. Who was it, and why wasn’t Rosencrans more thoroughly “motivated” to provide answers? Was the mailbox detail a red herring?
Yet another bizarre fact emerged concerning Jacquez as it relates to suspects in the investigation: the FBI discovered an address book in Terry Nichols’ home which featured the name “Jacquez” written out multiple times with variations on the spelling: Jacques, Jacquez, Jacks. The handwriting on the paper was thought to belong to Marife Nichols, Terry Nichols’ mail order bride from the Philippines, because the address book belonged to her. However, what exactly Marife (or someone else) was doing writing this name down on an otherwise blank page in her address book remains unknown and incredibly suspect. When interviewed about this unusual detail by Kevin Flynn of the Rocky Mountain News, former FBI lead investigator in the bombing case, Weldon Kennedy, claims he wasn’t even aware of the notebook or the writing found within it. This fact either shows a stunning level of ignorance and possible incompetence by the OKBOMB task force’s supposed leader, or, dishonesty. Kennedy would add “For the life of us, we were never able to pin (the Jacquez sighting) down.” Consider the fact that Weldon Kennedy lied about a significant detail of the investigation in his book, On Scene Commander, where Kennedy wrote that “the case would primarily be based on forensic evidence because there were no eyewitnesses.” Contrast that with the established fact that there were over 24 eyewitnesses in downtown Oklahoma City who saw Timothy McVeigh and a judgment about Weldon Kennedy’s honesty can be rendered.
Ultimately the Jacquez leads were followed up on exhaustively over at least five years with no identification of the suspect being made. One of the obvious problems with the FBI’s seemingly exhaustive investigation was that the focus appeared to be on potential suspects whose actual real names were “Robert Jacquez” or variations thereof when it’s highly probable that the name was just an alias that the mystery man had used. This fact would prove to be the likely reason FBI investigators were stymied when trying to identify the man. Contributing to this failure is the fact that certain leads appear to not have been examined more aggressively: the Rosencrans lead, the notebook found in Nichols’ home, and finally, the fingerprint evidence.
Though Maloney turned over a laminated map with the “Jacquez” fingerprints on it, the FBI doesn’t appear to have compared those fingerprints to the 1,035 fingerprints collected in the case from key locations such as motel rooms. This is known due to the testimony of FBI fingerprint expert Louis Hupp who testified at the Nichols trial. Hupp’s testimony reveals that none of the 1,035 fingerprints collected had been run through the NCIC or FBI fingerprint database for a match. Worse, they failed to check to see if any of the 1,035 fingerprints matched with one another. Doing that would have allowed the FBI to determine if one or more persons were present at multiple locations, placing that person with McVeigh during the bombing conspiracy and confirming that the prints belong to a likely accomplice. Shockingly, Hupp testified that the bombing task force’s leadership had decided that attempting to identify the other fingerprints “would not be necessary.” This failure of diligence is an outrage and can only be explained by two possibilities: incompetence or, the FBI had reason to not want to identify the other suspects. The latter explanation brings with it a host of uncomfortable questions.
The FBI’s failed Jacquez investigation would later cause McVeigh’s execution to be delayed after it was discovered that the FBI had withheld from defense attorneys the full facts concerning the five year manhunt. On May 9th, 2001, the FBI officially disclosed to Timothy McVeigh’s defense attorneys—just six days before his execution date—that it had failed to turn over around 3,000 pages of documents during McVeigh’s trial. A week later, it was reported that many of the withheld documents were “witness statements and photographs relating to a mysterious person known as Robert Jacquez.”
At one point during the FBI investigation the Robert Jacquez sketch was compared by FBI investigators to sketches of suspects from a bank robbery investigation called “BOMBROB.” A November 1st, 1995 teletype from the St. Louis field office sent to the director of the FBI and eight field offices details the comparison.
The teletype describes an October 1995 broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted” which featured sketches of bank robbers responsible for a series of bank robberies that were under investigation. Agents assigned to the OKBOMB investigation noted a strong similarity between one of the bank robber sketches and the Jacquez sketch.
The bank robber sketch depicted a suspect from an August, 16th 1995 robbery of a bank in Bridgeton, Missouri. The robbers who had carried out the Bridgeton, MO robbery had left a newspaper clipping about Timothy McVeigh in the back-seat of the drop car they had used for the robbery, further igniting suspicions among the investigating agents. That bank robber would later be identified as Richard Lee Guthrie, founder of a white supremacist terrorist group called “The Aryan Republican Army.”
The investigators asked: was Jacquez the same man being sought in the bank robbery investigation? Take a look for yourself, and ask, are these suspects one and the same?
The November 1st teletype also makes additional comparisons between the “Jacquez” suspect’s distinctive jungle boots—described in detail by Bill Maloney—and the distinctive boots worn by bank robber Richard Guthrie when he purchased a getaway vehicle in Alton, Illinois in December of ’94.
Was “Jacquez” the same person who robbed the bank in Missouri who had left a clipping about McVeigh in the back seat of the robbers’ drop car?
Nearly a year after the November 1, 1995 teletype, the Oklahoma City Bombing task force investigators would continue to examine possible links between Jacquez and the bank robbery gang that Guthrie had belonged to. Examining FBI interviews with one member of the bank robbery gang, Kevin McCarthy, shows that apparent interest. A September 20, 1996 FBI interview by SA Bill Teater shows that McCarthy was asked about “any knowledge he may have regarding individuals involved in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.” SA Teater was the same FBI agent who had interviewed the witnesses at Maloney Real Estate, and was thus the point man in the Jacquez investigation.
During the interview, McCarthy was asked about people he associated with or had seen at Elohim City, a racial separatist compound. Guthrie had visited Elohim City throughout the early to mid 90s and was well known to McCarthy, having participated in numerous bank robberies with him.
During McCarthy’s interview, SA Teater asked McCarthy if anyone he knew had ever traveled to Missouri for the purpose of locating rural property, or if he knew anyone that might have been ex-military. He was shown the sketch of Robert Jacquez and asked if it looked like anyone he knew. Teater asked McCarthy if he knew anyone named “Robert or Bob Jacquez.” The FBI 302 report of the interview says that McCarthy “thought for a few moments and replied that he really could not think of anyone he personally knew by that name” but added that “the name was one he had heard before.”
The most illuminating part of the interview comes from Teater’s line of questioning regarding Jacquez’ appearance. Recall that witness Maloney described Jacquez as dark-skinned and “possibly American Indian” while another witness, Barbara Whittenberg, had said that the man she saw with McVeigh and Nichols on April 15th (speculated to be the same person as Jacquez) was dark skinned and “possibly Hawaiian.” By all accounts the muscular Jacquez figure was not Caucasian. Teater asked McCarthy if he knew anyone matching this description, or if anyone like that had been at Elohim City. McCarthy answered that he did not associate with people matching that description and that “anyone matching that description would not have been welcome at Elohim City.”
Indeed, the bank robbery suspect whose sketch resembled the Jacquez sketch—Richard Guthrie—was a Caucasian. Though he sometimes had a tan, it stretches the bounds of credibility to think that he would be mistaken for an American Indian or a Pacific Islander. Likewise, a person fitting that description would be an unlikely figure to be found among the white supremacists to be found at Elohim City and within McCarthy and Guthrie’s social circle.
Ultimately, Guthrie just doesn’t fit the description of Jacquez in spite of similarities between his sketch and the sketch of Jacquez. For example, Richard Guthrie did not look like a body builder, did not have a “thick neck” or a powerful build. He was 5 foot 7, where Jacquez was described as near 6 feet tall.
After an examination of the facts, it appears that Guthrie can be ruled out as having been Jacquez. Like the Rosencrans lead, the possible identification of Guthrie as Jacquez would become a dead end.
Other Witnesses to the “Jaquez” Suspect
The FBI’s OKBOMB investigation uncovered multiple witnesses whose statements to the FBI indicate that the man Maloney and Davidson saw with McVeigh and Nichols calling himself Robert Jacquez may have been seen by other people in the days and weeks prior to the bombing.
For example, a man matching Maloney and Davidson’s description(s)—in both physical appearance and behavior—was seen the day before bombing by Oklahoma City postal workers Michael Klish, Debbie Nakanashi, and Karen Reece. Nakanashi told the FBI that the day before the bombing, McVeigh and another man had been at the post office branch across the street from the Murrah building. Nakanashi’s account is important to reference here because Nakanashi’s memory of the man’s behavior and appearance so closely matches that of the man calling himself Robert Jacquez that Maloney and Davidson had encountered just five months prior. Nakanashi told the FBI that the man with McVeigh “walked with a military bearing.” Using words almost identical to those used by Maloney to describe the man, Nakanashi said that “it was obvious to me this other man was the one that was in control of the situation, he was the boss.”
Another witness who may have encountered the enigmatic “Robert Jacquez” was restaurant owner Barbara Whittenberg. Whittenberg was the proprietor of the Sante Fe Trail diner located just off route 77 in Kansas. On Saturday, April 15th, 1995 she served breakfast to Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, and a third man who has never been identified. Noting a Ryder moving truck in the parking lot, Whittenberg asked the group if one of them was moving, and where to. The third man replied, telling her “Oklahoma City.” Whittenberg replied that she had relatives in a town south of Oklahoma City, making friendly small talk with the group. According to Whittenberg, the remark immediately stopped the conversation dead in its tracks—“McVeigh looked at him and you could feel buckets of ice being poured over our conversation. I got out of it.”
When Whittenberg was shown the “John Doe #2” sketch, she said that the third man she served breakfast to that morning looked different, saying “his face was thinner, his cheekbones more prominent, and his nose wider” than what the sketch depicted. However, when she was shown the sketch of “Robert Jacquez” she made a more positive identification, telling a CNN reporter “Yes. This is the closest picture I’ve seen yet!” Using language almost identical to Bill Maloney, Whittenberg recalled that the man she had seen was “darker skinned” and had a “thick neck,” looking “like a bodybuilder.” She said that the man was “possibly Hawaiian,” accounting for SA Bill Teater using that descriptor when asking bank robber Kevin McCarthy about Jacquez.
It is important to note that Whittenberg’s account of what she had seen appeared in reports from The New York Times in the fall of 1995, the Washington Post in April of 1996, a May 1996 issue of The New American magazine, the June 4th edition of McCurtain Gazette, followed by a citation and quote in the June 23rd 1996 edition of the Kansas City Star. The Associated Press would issue a syndicated report throughout all national newspapers on March 9, 1997, and the same month Whittenberg’s account would feature prominently in a TIME magazine article. Whittenberg’s media exposure, and the thus the exposure of the reality of the third suspect she had seen, was at an apex in 1997. That’s when the death threats started. Yes, death threats.
Whittenberg would later testify in 1997 before the grand jury impaneled to investigate the bombing that she began receiving death threats telling her to keep her mouth shut. At that time she told a Daily Oklahoman newspaper reporter covering the grand jury proceedings that “I’ve started to regret I ever said a thing,” adding, “I don’t do telephone interviews any more. I used to not be that way. I’m sorry.”
Who was this man, described by witnesses as the evident boss of McVeigh? His identity was sensitive enough for FBI teletypes to issue a disclaimer noting that the sketch was sensitive and on a “NEED TO KNOW” basis, to be withheld from newsmedia and other law enforcement agencies and media exposure about the man caused at least one witness to receive death threats. Terry Nichols, too, would express apparent fear concerning the identification of these other suspects.
Nichols Fears for His Life, Stonewalls
Additional confirmation that this Jacquez figure was a sensitive suspect emerges after an analysis of a batch of FBI documents stemming from 2005 interviews with convicted bomber Terry Nichols. In 2005, Nichols was interviewed by the FBI numerous times in relation to explosives and other evidence that he revealed were preserved and buried under his former Herington, Kansas home. Some of the revelations gleaned from those 2005 interviews as they relate to Robert Jacquez and John Doe #2 are relevant to the “Robert Jacquez” story but they offer more questions than they do answers.
During the 2005 interviews, Nichols told the FBI where they could locate explosives he said were buried under his former Herington home. During the interviews concerning these explosives, Nichols would tell the FBI that John Doe #2 exists and that he knows his identity, but would not reveal it out of fear for his family’s safety. Nichols said that the man’s name had not been revealed or mentioned by anyone at that time, and implied that the man or those whom he represents presented an immediate threat to his life and that of his family members.
Nichols was equally evasive about the enigmatic Robert Jacquez. Nichols said in his interviews that he had visited Missouri looking to buy real estate, but that only he and McVeigh had been there. Nichols’ description of the visit entirely omits Robert Jacquez from the narrative as if he wasn’t there. Assuming the 302 report is accurate, what prompted Nichols to exclude Jacquez from the narrative? The man clearly exists based on the solid accounts from Bill Maloney, Joe Davidson, and Nora Young. So, too, did the existence of a slip of paper recovered from Nichols’ home with the name “Jacquez” scrawled on it raise serious questions about the likelihood that the man was involved in a criminal conspiracy with McVeigh and Nichols.
Ultimately, what can be concluded based on the witness testimony, polygraph results, and FBI documents is that Robert Jacquez was involved with McVeigh and Nichols—perhaps on more than one occasion—and that for some reason, Terry Nichols is covering for this person in denying his presence. Like John Doe #2, Nichols may be fearful of the man or who he represents, and this may account for his silence on the matter. And so it remains a key mystery in the case whose answers may lie locked away with Terry Nichols.
Who was the man who called himself “Robert Jacquez,” seen with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in November 1994? What became of the fingerprint evidence that Maloney turned over to the FBI and why wasn’t it compared to the fingerprints collected in the case? Was the man spotted by Maloney and Davidson the same man seen with McVeigh the day prior to the bombing by Debbie Nakanashi? Was it the same man spotted with McVeigh and Nichols by Barbara Whittenberg on April 15th? Why was Nichols so evidently fearful concerning these suspects? Why did the FBI enact such secrecy surrounding the Jacques sketch, and fear subsequent media coverage of the suspect? Just who the hell was Robert Jacquez?
Many of the details concerning “Robert Jacquez” were sourced from a handful of media accounts concerning the suspect that emerged in 1997–98, and again in 2001 when accounts concerning withheld documents emerged. Here is a suggested reading list for students of the case curious about this suspect:
“Report: FBI Looking for Man Seen With Bombing Suspects.” Associated Press, 9 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Searches For Third Man.” CNN, 9 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Reportedly Looking For Man In Bombing.” Associated Press, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“3rd Man Sought in Bomb Probe.” Associated Press, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Man Linked to McVeigh Nichols During Land Inquiry Is Sought.” Buffalo News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Mystery Man Linked to McVeigh Broker Believes Trio Sought Hideout.” Cincinatti Post, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Report: FBI Searching for McVeigh Cohort.” Daily News [Los Angeles], 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Reportedly Seeks Man Seen with McVeigh, Nichols.” Dallas Morning News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Looking for Man Who Sought Hideout With Suspects in Blast.” Houston Chronicle, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Seeks Man With McVeigh.” Spokane Spokesman-Review, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Man Linked to McVeigh, Nichols During Land Inquiry Is Sought.” The Buffalo News, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“FBI Seeks Suspects’ Companion.” The Salina Journal, 10 Mar. 1997. [link]
“Who Is Robert Jacquez?” TIME, 17 Mar. 1997. [link]
“OKC Case Still Missing a Link.” Rocky Mountain News, 21 Apr. 1998. [link]
“John Doe 2 It’s Still an Open Question.” Kansas City Star, 4 Jun. 1998. [link]
“Conspiracy Theory Lingers in Oklahoma City Attack.” Kansas City Star, 6 Jun. 1998. [link]
“More McVeigh Files Found: FBI Orders Massive Search.” Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2001. [link]
“Were There Others?” ABC News, 30 May 2001. [link]
Gumbel, Andrew, and Roger Charles. Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters. HarperCollins, 2012, pp. 212–216, 255, 309
Richard Booth is an independent citizen journalist and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). A student of the OKC bombing case since 1995, Richard began researching the Oklahoma City bombing in earnest in 2012 and is currently writing a book about the case. Richard has appeared on podcasts to discuss his interest, highlighting areas that warrant additional research and expressing the need for more students to actively research this case. In April 2020, Richard donated his archive of research materials—thousands of news reports, articles, magazine pieces, FBI documents, ATF documents, court records and trial transcripts to The Libertarian Institute. You can find this archive here.
This article was originally featured at Medium and is republished with permission.
Today, closed-circuit surveillance cameras are ubiquitous. You find them everywhere: at gas stations, stoplights, on government property, on private property. At the time of the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, you could find surveillance cameras mounted at over a dozen properties in downtown Oklahoma City: the Regency Towers apartment building, the Journal Records Building, the Southwestern Bell building, the post office, and elsewhere. The properties surrounding the Alfred P. Murrah federal building were littered with surveillance cameras, some of which captured the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing on film. That film has never been released to the public; however, what appears on the surveillance footage is described in documents, trial testimony, and news reports on the bombing.
The first reports concerning surveillance camera footage of the bombing aired on CNN within days of the attack. One early CNN report stated that “the FBI says that it has surveillance camera video of the bomb site.” That same week, CNN reported that “the FBI says that it has obtained videotapes from security cameras in the vicinity of the blast and may have tape of the Ryder rental truck used to house the enormous bomb.” Eight days after the bombing, a preliminary hearing held in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma confirmed the FBI’s possession of surveillance camera footage.
By the time of the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing, the primary suspect — Timothy McVeigh — was in custody. The preliminary hearing’s purpose was to show probable cause and a reasonable basis for proceeding in case no. CR-95–98, the United States of America vs. Timothy James McVeigh. Leading the charge in the government’s case at the preliminary hearing was Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland, a top aid to Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. Garland’s chief witness was FBI Special Agent Jon Hersley, who would go on to give testimony that would serve to confirm that the FBI had in its possession multiple surveillance camera recordings.
Special Agent Hersley would recount during the hearing that he had seen both video and photographs (still-image video frames) taken from surveillance recordings seized by the FBI. Hersley testified that one of the photos he had seen depicted a Ryder truck moving east on 5th street. That photo came from a surveillance camera identified as having come from the Regency Towers apartment complex. The Regency Towers was located less than a block from the Murrah Building and had an obstructed view of the north face, where the Ryder truck was parked.
Hersley’s testimony is worth citing here because it is so specific concerning footage that the FBI had seized during their investigation:
Q. So you say there is film available that shows the — a Ryder Truck in an easterly direction, that is traveling in an easterly direction on Fifth Street?
Q. Is it past the street that we know as Harvey?
A. I am not — I have not studied that film in detail. It’s in that general vicinity right in there. It may be the video that I saw. I believe it is just before — well, I am not sure. I better not say that.
Q. Well, Harvey Street —
A. I don’t know.
Q. Harvey Street is the street that is immediately west of the Murrah Building?
A. That is correct.
Q. Are the photographs that you saw or, is it still photo or film?
A. What I saw was the still photos.
Q. Is it a still photo that has been removed from a film?
Q. So it was a close-up more of the truck than it’s location?
A. It wasn’t a close-up photo, it was taken from a camera off one of the buildings in the vicinity.
Q. Did you make a determination of what building it came off of?
A. No, I did not myself.
Q. Okay, did anyone?
A. I believe one of the other agents was able to determine that it came from one — one of the filmscame from the Regency Tower Apartments.
Q. Was there a time indicated on the picture of the film that you saw?
Agent Hersley’s testimony clarifies that the FBI had multiple surveillance camera recordings from the area. When Hersley stated that “one of the films came from the Regency Towers Apartments,” his use of the word “films,” plural, indicates there was more than recording. In addition to having seen photos taken from a surveillance video depicting a Ryder truck on 5th street, Hersley testified that he had seen pictures depicting another location—a parking lot next to the Journal Records Building. Hersley testified at length about a key witness who had seen Timothy McVeigh—and another suspect—speeding away from an alley adjacent to the Journal Records Building. The seized surveillance footage had covered this vicinity.
Hersley’s testimony concerning the Journal Records building and associated surveillance footage is excerpted:
Q. Where did this witness see the yellow Mercury speeding away?
A. Over in the direction — in the parking lot, in an area where the witness I had previously testified about said that the individual he identified as Mr. McVeigh was walking in a northerly direction towards.
Q. Where is that parking lot, sir?
A. Over on the north side of Fifth Street, close to the Journal Record Building.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. This particular male witness has indicated that he saw the — a yellow Mercury speeding away?
Q. Did this particular witness indicate to agents of the FBI how many persons were in the speeding yellow Mercury?
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. I assume speeding away on Fifth Street; is that correct?
A. Well, I think it is actually the alley area that would be immediately north of Fifth Street.
Q. Immediately north of Fifth Street is a parking lot there. Are you talking about the —
A. The north side of that parking lot.
Q. So the alley between the Journal Record Building and the parking lot? I’m sorry to interrupt you, I didn’t mean to.
Are you talking about that area, that alley?
A. I’m talking about the area on the north side of the parking lot that we have been speaking about.
Q. That’s where you are telling the Court that the yellow Mercury was speeding through that particular alley?
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Q. In your review of the surveillance photos, did you find any surveillance photos of that parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building?
Q. Have you been shown a photograph of that particular parking lot, sir, across the street from the Murrah Building that includes the speeding Mercury in the photograph?
A. We don’t know for sure yet. Those photographs are not real clear. They are taken from a pretty good distance away. There appears to be a light-colored car in the very vicinity where this witness testifies — or provides the information was speeding away from. We are not able to determine yet if that is in fact the yellow Mercury.
Q. The pictures that you saw of that particular parking lot — now I’m talking about the parking lot across the street from the Murrah Building — in a northerly direction, that parking lot, there is a film of that parking lot prior to the time of the explosion?
Q. Is it time-stamped so that you can tell a particular time of day on the 19th of April that that camera is viewing, scanning that parking lot?
In addition to confirming that the FBI had in its possession surveillance camera footage, the April 27th preliminary hearing also clarifies that the FBI had multiple eyewitnesses to Timothy McVeigh—with an accomplice—in downtown Oklahoma City that morning. Agent Hersley’s testimony confirms this. He testifies no less than three times during the preliminary hearing words to the effect that “our primary focus right now is to try to determine the identity and the location of the other subjects.” Agent Hersley testifies at length concerning the eyewitness accounts of Gary Lewis, Rodney Johnson, Dena Hunt, and Mike Moroz. All four of these witnesses saw McVeigh with another person in downtown Oklahoma City. One of them, mechanic Mike Moroz, picked McVeigh out of an FBI lineup in downtown Oklahoma City within days of the bombing. Moroz saw and spoke to McVeigh up-close, giving him directions from Johnny’s Tire about 20 minutes before the bombing. According to Moroz, there was a passenger in the Ryder truck with McVeigh when he spoke to him that morning. That passenger has come to be known as John Doe #2.
The other suspect—John Doe #2—has never been captured, and the FBI today denies that he exists. The man’s identity remains a controversial subject, the basis of much speculation. What is certain is that many witnesses observed Timothy McVeigh with another person in downtown Oklahoma City and the surveillance footage of the bombing, described in the April 27th preliminary hearing, may depict that other suspect. Fueling speculation about this other suspect is Associate Deputy Attorney General Merrick Garland’s objections issued during the preliminary hearing whenever direct questions concerning surveillance camera footage or John Doe #2 came up:
Q. Who are those agents that are tasked with the responsibility of reviewing photographs and film footage?
MR. GARLAND: Objection, Your Honor. This is now purely speculative.
THE COURT: Overruled.
A. The agent that showed me the photographs was Walt Lamar.
Q. And is he the one that you inquired as to whether or not there were any photographs of the accused, Mr. Timothy McVeigh, in possession of the government, at or about the Ryder Truck? You asked him that question I assume; did you not?
A. I did not inquire of Agent Lamar about these photographs. He brought it to my attention because there is a possibility of a particular car being involved in one of those photographs that he was showing me. We are continuing investigation to try to determine the actual identity of that car.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
A. I know there was at least one male that observed the Ryder Truck and the occupants of the Ryder Truck. That person also advised that the individual in the truck closely resembled the individual depicted in composite one.
Q. Did you tell me he saw occupants of a Ryder Truck and there were more than one?
MR. GARLAND: Objection. The only person on trial at this hearing is Mr.McVeigh. It doesn’t matter whether there were two or a hundred people in that truck as long as there was somebody representing Mr. McVeigh there. It is discovery and totally outside the scope of this hearing.
MR. COYLE: May I respond? I think it is important to see if we distinguish it as the same truck or not. I think it is very important to the credibility of the witnesses and credibility of the evidence and what they saw as to whether or not the next person saw three or five or six or —
THE COURT: Objection overruled. Go ahead.
A. This witness advised that there were two individuals in the truck. The individual resembling Mr. McVeigh was the driver.
None of the surveillance videos mentioned in the CNN broadcasts or the April 27th preliminary hearing appeared at the McVeigh and Nichols federal trials in 1997 and 1998. It was as if they did not exist. Not introducing the surveillance tapes as evidence made little sense; If the FBI had a videotape showing McVeigh in Oklahoma City, that would constitute “best evidence” that could put McVeigh at the crime scene. The eyewitnesses who saw McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City would also be damning evidence. Yet, none of those eyewitnesses were called to testify at trial. Was this because every one of these witnesses saw McVeigh with another person?
Four years after the bombing, after Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were convicted, the full scope of the FBI’s surveillance footage of the bombing emerged. In 1999, during a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, it was revealed that the FBI had taken into possession nearly two dozen recordings from surveillance cameras in the downtown Oklahoma City area.
FOIA Lawsuits Over Secret Footage
A 1999 Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by investigative journalist David Hoffman revealed that the FBI had twenty-two video surveillance recordings of the Murrah building and surrounding area stored at the FBI’s Oklahoma City field office. Curiously, a single surveillance tape was listed as housed under lock and key in Washington, D.C. at FBI headquarters. The central issue of Hoffman’s lawsuit was that the FBI had conceded to the existence of the surveillance camera footage but refused to release it pursuant to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. During Hoffman’s FOIA suit, FBI lawyers filed multiple motions for summary judgment—essentially asking the judge to throw the case out in their favor. Each subsequent motion filed by the Department of Justice cited entirely different reasons for withholding the material, seemingly coming up with new excuses with each motion. These motions were summarily dismissed with increasing criticism from the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Alley. Alley wrote that the FBI had put forward insufficient “justifications for withholding all materials in its investigative files concerning the Oklahoma City Bombing” and further stated that the FBI had exhibited “shoddy conduct” during the litigation.
Judge Alley wrote that “the court would be inclined” to compel the FBI to release the surveillance footage; however, ultimately, the judge ruled that he was unable to do so. A previous order issued by Judge Richard P. Matsch, presiding judge in the McVeigh and Nichols Federal trials, deemed that the surveillance camera footage from the bombing investigation was under seal because the McVeigh and Nichols trial convictions were subject to appeals. As a result, Judge Alley ruled that “the Court is presently powerless to grant plaintiff relief under FOIA” because of Judge Matsch’s ruling. However, Judge Alley would add that Hoffman “raises a legitimate point” that the federal criminal case against bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols was nearing an end. Thus Matsch’s order to seal the evidence would presumably expire as those cases and subsequent appeals ended. Judge Alley spells out this position by writing that the FBI’s “justification for its shroud of secrecy may likewise soon end.”
Hoffman’s suit wouldn’t be the last time the FBI would face legal challenges concerning the highly-secret footage. The video recordings seized by the FBI during the OKC bombing investigation are the central focus of an FOIA lawsuit litigated by Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue. The FBI had sent Trentadue a batch of 30 recordings following a Freedom of Information Act request. However, Trentadue noted that the footage the FBI produced was of little value—it shows absolutely nothing of interest. The recordings released by the FBI do not show the Ryder truck parking, nor the suspects. Jesse Trentadue says the tapes are incomplete. “Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19th, 1995? There ain’t no such thing as a coincidence”, Trentadue told the Associated Press after receipt of the incomplete footage.
The FBI claims that the security cameras failed to record critical moments leading up to the blast because “they had run out of tape” or, improbably, because “the tape was being replaced.” Trentadue noted that “the interesting thing is [the tapes] spring back on after 9:02 A.M.” and that “the absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn’t want anybody to see.”
The surveillance tapes released to Trentadue appear to be incomplete, and this can be reasonably demonstrated based on what FBI and Secret Service documents from the bombing investigation say about the tapes. Additional insight into what appears on the recordings comes from statements by FBI agents and law enforcement personnel who have seen the footage.
FBI and Secret Service Officials: We Had McVeigh On Tape
Danny Coulson was the FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Office and founder of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team. Coulson was one of the commanders of the OKC bombing investigation, in charge of the crime scene. In 1999, on a BookTV (C-SPAN) broadcast where agent Coulson is promoting his book No Heroes, Coulson said point-blank, “we had the videotape of the truck being pulled up a couple of minutes before nine” and that “we had him [McVeigh] on videotape.”
Supporting Coulson’s statement is a Secret Service timeline that says “security video shows the Ryder truck pulling up to the Federal Building then pausing (7–10 seconds) before resuming into a slot in front of the building.” Yet another entry in the Secret Service timeline says that “security video tapes from the area show the truck detonation 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck.” The use of the word “suspects,” plural, indicates that the footage recorded more than one person exiting the Ryder truck. The Secret Service timeline also presents a startling degree of specificity—“3 minutes and 6 seconds after the suspects exited the truck” strongly suggests that the footage was such that it had a time-code or could otherwise be used to measure the passage of time in relation to what appears on the footage.
Additionally, an FBI inventory log of seized surveillance camera footage reviewed by FBI SA Pamela Matson for footage deemed “positive” in terms of evidentiary value denotes two recordings as “positive.” Footage considered “positive” in terms of evidentiary value would necessarily show the bombing, the suspects, or the suspects’ vehicles. Those two recordings are the footage from the Journal Records Building and the footage from the Southwestern Bell building. Additionally, both of the security cameras denoted in the FBI evidence log as having recorded footage deemed positive happened to be positioned in areas where key eyewitnesses described seeing Timothy McVeigh and other suspects in the moments before and after the blast.
For example, witness Gary Lewis told the FBI that he observed Timothy McVeigh and another man in a Mercury Marquis speeding past the Journal Records building moments before the blast. What he saw would presumably appear on the Journal Records building tape deemed positive. Similarly, Germaine Johnston told the FBI that she spotted McVeigh and another man standing next to the Mercury Marquis in an ally adjacent to the Southwestern Bell building immediately following the blast. Cameras position at the Southwestern Bell property would likely have recorded the ingress and egress points of the property, capturing the bombers on film. Likewise, surveillance cameras trained on 5th street would have depicted the Ryder truck bomb’s delivery described by agent Coulson, thus showing what the Secret Service timeline described in such exacting detail.
News Reports Cite Law Enforcement: Passenger Appears on Tapes
In addition to the FBI evidence log and Secret Service timeline, there are contemporary news media accounts published after the bombing where law enforcement sources familiar with the recordings describe what appears on the footage. An October 28th, 1995 Associated Press report headlined “Surveillance Tape Shows Shadowy Passenger in Bomb Truck” quoted one law enforcement official stating that the surveillance footage shows a passenger in the Ryder truck with McVeigh. The source of that footage was identified in the article as a security camera mounted on a nearby apartment building. That camera is presumably the Regency Towers apartment building’s camera, cited by FBI agent Hersley in the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing.
Yet other law enforcement officials saw surveillance footage taken from two cameras positioned near 5th street. These sources told a Los Angeles Times reporter and Oklahoma News Channel KFOR-4 TV reporter what they saw on the recordings. KFOR reporters Kevin Ogle and Brad Edwards relayed what sources told them in a broadcast that aired on KFOR-4 TV news in October 1995:
“A Ryder truck with two men inside of it parked at the bomb site in front of the Murrah building. The driver’s side door opens and McVeigh steps out, and walks away towards 5th street and the Journal Records building. The passenger stays inside the cabin for a period of time, then exits on foot in the same direction as McVeigh.”
Attempted Sale of Footage to Dateline: NBC
In a shocking development, an FBI agent tried to sell a copy of the Oklahoma City bombing surveillance footage to a major TV news program in the fall of 1995. FBI documents dated October 27th and October 30th detail how a Los Angeles based FBI agent tried to sell the surveillance footage to Dateline NBC for over one million dollars. A confidential source at the network contacted the FBI, and a report based on that contact is worth reproducing here in full:
“The source related that “Dateline,” an NBC television show, had been contacted by an unknown attorney representing a Los Angeles Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). On behalf of the agent, the attorney offered to sell a copy of the surveillance tape recovered from Oklahoma City which shows the activity outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building just prior to the bomb blast.
It was represented that the video tape would contain time-lapse photography of the arrival and then departure of a UPS truck. Then a Ryder truck pulls up and a male resembling Timothy McVeigh is seen exiting the driver’s side of the Ryder truck and then walking away. The second male then walks away in the same direction as the first male.”
A December 1995 report published by Media Bypass magazine described the attempted sale and added additional details from FBI sources familiar with the investigation. The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) opened an investigation into the matter. The inquiry would seek to document the “chain of custody” for the FBI’s seized surveillance footage, identify agents with access, and identify the agent who attempted to make the sale. The Media Bypass report indicated that it was determined a Los Angeles FBI agent who possessed the footage was not assigned to the FBI’s OKBOMB case and was therefore not authorized to possess the footage. An FBI source who spoke to Media Bypass said that the agent attempting to profit from the tragedy “apparently obtained a copy of the video from a fellow agent in Oklahoma City.”
A Texas-based FBI agent familiar with the investigation told Media Bypass that an FBI agent based out of Oklahoma City was under investigation after allegedly running “off at least 12 copies of the videotape for friends and co-workers.” The agent said that “there may be dozens, if not hundreds of these surveillance videos now in circulation” and that “everyone is waiting for (the footage) to show up on ‘A Current Affair’ or ‘Hard Copy.’”
The Media Bypass feature on the attempted sale quotes an Oklahoma private investigator, Robert Jerlow, whose attorney, Randy Shadid, represented the agent trying to sell the tape. Jerlow told Media Bypass that the FBI agent screened the surveillance tape for Dateline at an Orange County deputy sheriff’s home in October of 1995. An FBI document from the investigation of the attempted sale seemingly confirms this, stating that “Dateline was able to view the videotape at the home of an Orange County Deputy Sheriff.” The 19-minute VHS tape was composed of video sourced from multiple surveillance cameras–”shot from several angles” by cameras mounted on buildings along 5th Street. The tape includes footage showing the truck pulling up to the Murrah building a couple of minutes before 9:00 A.M. and concludes with footage that shows the “actual initial detonation of the truck bomb.”
Ultimately, the sale of the surveillance footage to Dateline NBC never occurred, and no word on what happened to the FBI agent attempting to make the deal has emerged. However, it’s incredibly likely that the FBI pinpointed the agent who tried to sell the footage; the Media Bypass report and FBI documents from the investigation provide enough personal information about the L.A. based agent to identify him.
The FBI’s confidential source reveals numerous details about the agent who attempted to sell the footage to Dateline:
The agent was based out of the Los Angeles Field Office.
The agent was a GS-13. (pay grade)
The agent was a 16 year FBI veteran in 1995.
The agent was between the ages of 38–42 in 1995.
The agent was a former sniper instructor at Carlos Hathcock School.
The agent served in the U.S Marine Corps from 1982–1988.
During their investigation, the FBI would have recovered any extant unauthorized copies of the tape. However, the possibility remains that at least one person out there still may have a copy today.
The FBI’s release of incomplete footage and their assertion that footage depicting the bombing doesn’t exist is simply not credible in light of the known facts concerning the surveillance tapes. FBI agent Jon Hersley testified about two different recordings that produced still images of the Ryder truck and McVeigh’s Mercury Marquis during the April 27th, 1995 preliminary hearing. Reports published in the L.A. Times and by the Associated Press in October of 1995 indicate that surveillance footage exists, which shows a Ryder truck with two people in the truck. A Secret Service timeline states with an incredible degree of specificity that footage exists showing the Ryder truck park in front of the Murrah building. FBI agent Danny Coulson’s statements support this, with him having said, “we had a videotape of the truck being pulled up at a couple of minutes toward nine.” FBI agent Pamela Matson denoted at least two tapes being “positive” in terms of evidentiary value in her review of seized surveillance recordings. All of this indicates that these tapes exist, but there is something on the tapes that the FBI doesn’t want people to see. The question then arises, “What do the tapes show? Why is the FBI seeking to suppress this surveillance footage?”
The only conclusion is that the surveillance footage shows McVeigh was not alone the morning of the bombing—thus introducing the notion that others were involved who were never apprehended. That conclusion is reasonable, based at least in part on what the witnesses in downtown Oklahoma City saw that morning. FBI agent Danny Coulson told the BBC in 2007 that “we know there were 24 people that were interviewed by the FBI that said they saw Mr. McVeigh on April 19th with someone else…They told the agents what they saw, and the agents wrote it down. If only one person had seen that, or two or three…but twenty-four? Twenty-four people say, yes, I saw him [McVeigh] with somebody else? That’s pretty powerful.”’
Consider this: if the surveillance footage had shown Timothy McVeigh, alone, it probably would have aired on every news network across the country. The fact that this footage has never seen the light of day, despite having been documented at length, raises serious questions about the bombing. It’s time to release the tapes—in full, without redaction. Judging by the FBI’s past actions relating to these tapes, that is unlikely to occur.
Perhaps one day, someone out there who still has a copy of the footage will come forward and settle the case once and for all. However, even if that were to occur, it would be unlikely to settle the case with any level of certainty. With DeepFake technology and the increasing sophistication of CGI, there remains the possibility that any footage released today could be of unknown provenance; that is to say, any copy produced by authorities today could have been subject to material alteration.
If the footage is produced at this late date that is alleged to show the bombing (in full and without redaction), what appears would necessarily need to match what’s documented. What appears on the footage would need to match what the Secret Service timeline and news reports produced in 1995 say: a Ryder truck comes to a stop in front of the Murrah Building, and two men step out of the truck. Three minutes and six seconds after the suspects exit the truck, the truck bomb detonates. Should a tape miraculously appear and show something other than this, critics will rightly point out that what appears on the newly-produced footage doesn’t match what the evidence says is on the tapes. Ultimately, there exists so much evidence concerning these surveillance tapes that experts know what to expect should footage be released, and we also know what would not appear on genuine, unaltered footage: McVeigh, alone.
The story of the Murrah Federal Building surveillance tapes comes from a variety of sources, including CNN network news, contemporary accounts from newspapers, with specific details about the recordings found among FBI and Secret Service documents from the Oklahoma City Bombing investigation.
Find here a list of sources and links where you may examine the evidence for yourself.
TV News Reports:
April 1995 CNN broadcast <link> reports that “the FBI says that it has surveillance camera video of the bomb site”
April 1995 CNN broadcast <link> reports that “the FBI says that it has obtained videotapes from security cameras in the vicinity of the blast and may have tape of the Ryder rental truck used to house the enormous bomb”
October 1995 KFOR-4 TV Oklahoma City NBC affiliate news broadcast <Link>
BookTV: “Inside the FBI’s Secret Counter-Terror Force.” C-SPAN, 1999. <Link> — at 1hr 1m 30 seconds, FBI SA Danny Coulson says “We had videotape of the truck being pulled up at a couple minutes toward nine.”
Newspaper and Magazine Reports:
Michael J. Sniffen. “License Plate of McVeigh Caught On Tape, Vehicle Believed Used In Suspect’s Getaway.” The Buffalo News, 29 Apr. 1995. <Link>
Lawrence Myers. “A Closer Look.” Media Bypass, December 1995. Print. <Link>
J.D. Cash and Jeff Holladay. “Videotape Won’t Help Theory.” McCurtain Daily Gazette, 12 Sep 1996. <Link>
“Some Witnesses Leery of Bombing Grand Jury.” Daily Oklahoman, 10 August 1997. Print. <Link>
Don Harkins. “Final Report Reveals FBI Has Fingerprints of John Doe #2; High Quality Pre-Blast Surveillance Tapes.” The Idaho Observer, 12 Dec. 2001. <Link>
James Patterson. “Time to unseal videotapes of Murrah Federal Building.” Indianapolis Star, 16 Nov 2002. Print. <Link>
John Solomon. “Document: Oklahoma City Bombing Was Taped.” Associated Press, 19 Apr. 2004. <Link>
Tim Talley. “Attorney: Oklahoma City Bombing Tapes Appear Edited.” Associated Press, 28 Sept. 2009. Print. pp. A3; <Link>
Dennis Romboy. “FBI Explanation of Missing Oklahoma City Bombing Tapes Not Credible, Judge Says.” Associated Press, 21 Mar. 2012. <Link>
“Witness: More Oklahoma City bombing videos may exist.” Associated Press, 30 Jul. 2014. <Link>
U.S. vs. Timothy McVeigh, № M-95–98-H (Western District of Oklahoma.) Preliminary Hearing, 27 Apr. 1995. <Link>
U.S. vs. Terry Nichols, № 96-CR-68 (D. Colorado), testimony of Germaine Johnston on 5 December 1997.
Hoffman v. DOJ, № 98–1733 (Western District of Oklahoma.) Order, 15 Dec. 1999 <Link> — This FOIA lawsuit over the surveillance tapes reveals the FBI has 23 recordings of the Murrah Building and surrounding area.
Hoffman v. DOJ, № 98–1733 (Western District of Oklahoma.) Order, 10 Jul. 2001 <Link> — Judge Wayne Alley’s ruling on the sealed surveillance tapes.
FBI and Secret Service Documents:
Secret Service document — OKBOMB timeline, 5/1/95, pp 73 <Link>
Secret Service document — OKBOMB timeline, 5/1/95, pp 79 <Link>
FBI document, inventory log, #174A-OC-56120 LCN #12649A, by SA Pamela A Matson <Link> — This inventory of seized surveillance footage deems at least two recordings “positive” — that is to say, they show the bombing and/or the bombers and the “bomb truck.”
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-4553, 4/19/95 interview Danny Payne w/ SA John Hippard re: Journal Records Building surveillance footage. <Link> Payne told Hippard tapes “may have obtained photographs of the persons responsiblefor the bombing.”
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-245, 4/22/95 interview Gary Lewis w/ SA Leslie E. Harris <Link> — observed McVeigh + JD2 in Mercury driving past Journal Records building.
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, D-1705 LCN #5654, 4/30/95 interview Gary Lewis. <Link> — observed McVeigh + JD2 in Mercury driving past Journal Records building.
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, E-8508 10/27/95 — Dateline NBC attempted sale of surveillance footage <Link>
FBI document, 302 report, #174A-OC-56120, E-8507 10/30/95 — Dateline NBC attempted sale of surveillance footage <Link>
Richard Booth is an independent citizen journalist and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association (CFAPA). A student of the OKC bombing case since 1995, Richard began researching the Oklahoma City bombing case in earnest in 2012 and is currently writing a book, John Doe #2 and the Oklahoma City Bombing. Richard has appeared on podcasts to discuss his interest in this case, highlighting areas that warrant additional research and expressing the need for more students to actively research this case. In April 2020, Richard donated his archive of research materials—thousands of news reports, articles, magazine pieces, FBI documents, ATF documents, court records and trial transcripts to The Libertarian Institute. You can find this archive here.
This article was originally featured at Medium.com and is republished with permission.
When I began compiling material for what eventually became “The Oklahoma City Bombing Archives,” I was simply doing background research for a book. Over a period of several years I used commercial databases, libraries, and services that allowed me to scan newspaper and magazine reports, transcripts, and other sources for relevant material.
In addition to standard news media sources, the scope of this research archive expanded after contacting several researchers on this subject and asking for their advice and any materials that might be useful. A number of other researchers contributed additional documents and case material to round out the archive.
As I neared the end of the most intensive period of research, I realized that this archive had grown to include more than enough primary sources to provide any student, journalist, or researcher with an excellent starting point to help kickstart their project.
By my thinking, in the right hands this archive could conceivably contribute to someone writing a stellar non-fiction book, or at least a few articles. In addition, my hope was that this archive might also get people interested in this case when they otherwise might not give the subject any second thought.
With this goal in mind I began strongly considering an effort to bring this research material to the public on a website where anyone could access it, or search it. Thanks to support from fellow researchers and folks at the Libertarian Institute we now have this archive of material available for everyone.
There are so many things in the archive that, for a newcomer, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start, or even know what to look for. It’s with that in mind that we’ll go over some highlights of things in this archive that a person might want to take a closer look at–some of the more interesting feature articles, reports, and documents on the case.
This feature piece from Mother Jones magazine details the death of Kenneth Trentadue. While authorities claim the death was a suicide, and tried to cremate the body, Trentadue’s family prevented the cremation and had the body examined which showed clear signs of beating and torture. An Oklahoma medical examiner’s conclusions support this and mounting details emerged that appear to link Trentadue’s murder to the nationwide manhunt for one of Timothy McVeigh’s accomplices in the bombing, “John Doe #2.”
This report has quotes from a service station mechanic, Mike Moroz, who gave directions to Timothy McVeigh on the morning of April 19, 1995. Moroz said that McVeigh had a passenger in the Ryder truck with him, and he later pointed McVeigh out of a lineup for the FBI. You can read Moroz’s 302 report [here] and see video of Mike Moroz describing the encounter [here (video)]
A great piece from The New Yorker about Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash’s groundbreaking stories published by the McCurtain Gazette. Cash’s reporting would win him a prize in investigative reporting from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists and two Pulitzer nominations. This is one of the few mainstream media pieces to credit J.D. Cash’s reporting.
This stunning report goes into detail concerning the existence of surveillance camera footage depicting the Oklahoma City bombing. Though the FBI denies any footage exists, this report has details concerning an FBI internal investigation into one Los Angeles FBI agent’s attempt to sell the footage to Dateline: NBC for $1 million. This report, when examined in conjunction with October 1995 FBI documents [here], and [here], confirm the attempted sale.
News media accounts from October 1995 [here, here] confirm the existence of the tapes, showing two passengers in the Ryder truck, and a Secret Service timeline [here] describes what is shown on the footage. Finally, a fall 1995 KFOR-TV broadcast reported and did a recreation of what law enforcement sources said appears on the video [here].
A 1999 FOIA lawsuit revealed that the FBI possessed up to 22 different videos depicting the downtown OKC area [here]. Meanwhile, an internal FBI evidence log [here] states that at least two of those videos show the bombers and/or Ryder truck. Those two videos were taken from The Journal Record Building (designated #Q7) and from the Southwestern Bell building (designated #Q77).
This Newsweek cover story was about an FBI Major Case Undercover Operation dubbed “PATCON.” PATCON targeted white supremacist groups throughout the country in the 1990s, and one of it’s undercover informants, John Matthews, crossed paths with Timothy McVeigh during his time working PATCON. When this piece was published, Newsweek’s editors so heavily sanitized and edited the story that central details concerning Timothy McVeigh were excised from the final story. This is the original copy of this groundbreaking story—as submitted to Newsweek’s editor—before half of the story was gutted. For the redacted, final print edition — without the McVeigh details — click here.
This piece, by investigative reporters J.D. Cash and Roger Charles, details connections between the FBI, a group of white supremacist bank robbers, and Timothy McVeigh. J.D. Cash—and the FBI—began investigating links between the bank robbers and Timothy McVeigh early in the FBI’s investigation.
Washington Weekly contributor and author of The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror, David Hoffman, writes about the disturbing death of Oklahoma City police officer Terry Yeakey. Official reports suggest his death was a suicide, but the details don’t support that conclusion.
In this story, published a day after the bombing, federal judge Wayne Alley says that his office received a warning that some sort of attack might take place on April 19. The threat was so serious that Judge Alley didn’t show up for work that day. What did the feds know about what might happen on April 19? Other early reports detail unspecific ‘threats’ the feds received before the blast [here, here and here].
This is one of the very first news reports to describe a witness who observed a bomb squad truck and personnel in the vicinity of the Murrah building and courthouse in the hours before the bombing. Many of these witnesses’ accounts would later be detailed by the Oklahoma Bombing Investigative Committee’s 2001 Final Report, and would be interviewed by a 1997 grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing. No sufficient explanation has been provided as to why a bomb squad and sniffer dogs would be where they were that morning.
In fact, it appears that the subject of bomb sniffer dogs seen at the courthouse and Murrah building appears to be a very sensitive subject. When U.S. Postal worker Debbie Nakanashi was set to testify before a Grand Jury investigating the bombing, she was told by U.S. Attorney Steve Mullins and Postal attorney John Hollingsworth that she was explicitly barred from speaking about bomb sniffer dogs when she testified before the grand jury (source: interview from transcript U.S. FAIR Justice Act HR4105 07/27/2000 pp 79).
This report details the recollections of Lynda Willoughby, proprietor of the private mailbox business where Timothy McVeigh received his mail. According to Willoughby, the man depicted in the “John Doe #2” sketch picked up McVeigh’s mail once, and that an unidentified Kingman resident picked up McVeigh’s mail 5-6 times. The piece raises the specter of additional accomplices, close enough to McVeigh to pick up his mail for him.
At the end of April 1995, news reports began to surface that said law enforcement sources had surveillance camera footage from Oklahoma City which showed Timothy McVeigh’s Arizona license plate affixed to a second vehicle, widely reported as having been a brown truck. This report says “The videotape from a security camera on a nearby apartment building shows both the Ryder truck believed to have carried the massive bomb and a second vehicle—not the Mercury—bearing the Arizona tag, a federal law enforcement official in Washington said Friday.” Later, the FBI would claim John Doe #2 did not exist, no second vehicle was ever officially identified, and the video footage cited by law enforcement sources here would never surface.
This lengthy LA Times report contains many details, prominent among them the claim that the FBI had located a second vehicle involved in the bombing, and that “authorities think that three vehicles entered Oklahoma for the bombing.”
The report also describes what witness Gary Lewis saw, “two men inside a yellow Mercury Marquis speeding away from the Journal Record building” prior to the bombing. Lewis’ sighting was documented in FBI 302 reports [here, here] and was touted by FBI agent John Hersley in an April 29, 1995 preliminary hearing [here].
This report is interesting as it details a little-known fact that is a key piece of the investigation: a brown pickup truck. The report says that “authorities were trying to enhance the image of a brown pickup truck license plate captured on videotape by a camera in the car of the state trooper who arrested McVeigh.”
An April 20, 1995 FBI teletype stated that “several leads are outstanding relative to a brown pickup” truck [here].
In addition, when McVeigh was pulled over by State Trooper Charlie Hangar, the brown pickup that pulled off to the side of the road in tandem with McVeigh was spotted by at least two witnesses—Kevin Brown [302 report here] saw it, and so did witness Scott Gregory who testified at the Nichols State trial.
As with all of the other videotape evidence in this case that shows possible suspects or vehicles, Hangar’s dashcam footage showing the brown pickup pull over has never been produced.
Virtually every article written by J.D. Cash is worth reading, but this one is included because it dovetails with the previous report concerning a brown pickup truck.
Cash interviewed witness Lea Mohr who just minutes before 9 A.M., circled the Murrah Building waiting for the Ryder truck to leave the handicapped parking spot.
Mohr, upset the handicapped parking space was taken by a non-handicap vehicle, took pictures of the Ryder truck with her disposable camera. According to Mohr, there was a brown pickup truck parked next to the Ryder truck.
This report was explosive—a major turn in the case: a third arrest. However, it would also prove to be one of the most mystifying parts of the whole OKC bombing story. Announcing a third arrest in the OKBOMB case, The Houston Chronicle reported—exclusively–that an Arizona biochemist named Steven Colbern had been “identified” as a suspect in the bombing. The article goes on to say that “Colbern was identified through his brown pickup. It was captured, by chance, on video taken from the state trooper’s car that stopped Timothy McVeigh for speeding” and that Colbern’s truck could be seen pulling over to the side of the road ahead of McVeigh’s vehicle on the dashcam footage.
The most interesting claim in this report is that “sophisticated enhancement techniques were used to improve the video until investigators could read the license plate number.” However, this story makes even less sense when you look at FBI documents from the time. A May 3rd, 1995 airtel from FBI SA Thomas Ravenelle–dated nine days before Colbern’s arrest—states that “COLBERN has been eliminated as a suspect in this matter” [FBI document].
If his license plate was recorded in connection with the bombing, how was he eliminated as a suspect? And if he was eliminated as a suspect, then why was he then arrested a week later? What the hell is going on here? To make matters more confusing, Colbern cooperated with authorities and signed two confusing official statements to the federal government which are, in some parts, nonsensical. In these statements, Colbern admits to having known gun dealer Roger Moore under the alias of “Bob Miller” and further to have spoken with his girlfriend (real name: Karen Anderson) on the telephone, with Colbern oddly saying that the girlfriend also went by “Bob.” Within his two statements Colbern said that he had never personally met Mr. McVeigh, but that he knew of him as “Tim Tuttle” and, curiously, Moore/Miller had told him that “[McVeigh] was a master of making fake license plates.”
Whatever the case may be, Mr. Colbern was eventually released without any charges in connection to the bombing, and where he fits in the puzzle remains a mystery to this day.
This news report is one of the first to reference the white separatist community Elohim City in connection to the OKC bombing. The report says that Timothy McVeigh visited the white separatist community and that “the FBI is close to arresting a group of major players” in the OKC bombing investigation.
A senior law enforcement official told Newsweek magazine that “this thing involves husbands and wives as well as children as young as 12.”
Two days later, the spiritual leader of Elohim City, Robert Millar, would hold a press conference denying any connection to McVeigh, and no arrests there would be made.
One day after it’s reported that the FBI is “close to making arrests” in the bombing—in a report alluding to Elohim City— Timothy McVeigh was publicly linked to Elohim City, with this report saying he called the compound on April 5.
This Newsweek piece says that Timothy McVeigh and another man were spotted prowling around federal buildings in Omaha, Nebraska and Phoenix, Arizona, something that was first reported in April. This subject would be touched on again 25 years after the case in an April 20, 2020 report [here] where the ATF’s sketches of the two men were first published.
Another interesting detail is reported in that “for the past year, the ATF and the Army Corps of Engineers have been blowing up car bombs at the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico” as part of a project called DIPOLE MIGHT. Curiously, an ATF agent assigned to DIPOLE MIGHT happened to be in Oklahoma City on April 19 and it is reported that within minutes of the bombing, agents trained under DIPOLE MIGHT were at the crime scene. Yet, almost the entire ATF office was vacant that day. Where were these DIPOLE MIGHT agents positioned that morning to appear at the Murrah building within minutes?
This report details two separate encounters with still-unknown accomplices connected to McVeigh. The report says that Terry Nichols, Timothy McVeigh, and an unknown third man with long hair ate lunch together on April 18, 1995 at a Subway in Kansas. The report also details a delivery of Chinese food that was made to McVeigh’s room at the Dreamland Motel by deliveryman Jeff Davis. A sketch was made of the man Davis made the delivery to [here] and Davis insists the man wasn’t McVeigh.
This story is included for the sheer absurdity and shade of inter-agency rivalry. Thomas Constantine, the head of the DEA, says he “amazed” that the FBI hasn’t captured John Doe #2 yet — at May 5 this puts John Doe 2 at large for approximately two weeks.
On October 28, 1995, newspapers across the country reported that surveillance camera footage of the bombing shows two people in the Ryder truck that delivered the bomb. The description of what is on the tape was given by unidentified “law enforcement sources” and matches descriptions provided by witnesses at the scene. This headline is just one of many that ran in papers that week in October. Find more at the Libertarian Institute’s news archive here.
This report concerns Oklahoma City bombing documents that were unsealed in the first week of November 1995, which include details about two witnesses who saw Timothy McVeigh “with another person” leaving the scene of the crime.
This piece details a half dozen witnesses who spotted Timothy McVeigh with an accomplice both in Oklahoma City on the day of the bombing, and in two rural Kansas towns in the days before the blast. The witnesses detailed in this report were interviewed by the FBI, and in some cases they also testified at trial and before a grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing.
This radio broadcast features interviews with witnesses who spotted Timothy McVeigh with John Doe #2. This includes mechanic Mike Moroz, who was interviewed by the FBI several times and pointed McVeigh out of a lineup for the FBI, as well as café owner Barbara Whittenberg, among others.
These witnesses continued to be covered in the press with varying degrees of detail throughout McVeigh and Nichols’ trials where the majority of them were never called to testify as to what they had seen.
This piece is just one of many that detail possible connections between Timothy McVeigh and the white separatist community known as Elohim City. Notably, this article says that the Southern Poverty Law Center’s director, Morris Dees, said that McVeigh had visited Elohim City “several times.” The article also covers details concerning Richard Wayne Snell, who was executed on April 19, 1995, and states that Snell was visited in prison by Elohim City’s Robert Millar “every day, many hours a day” before his execution date and that Snell’s body is buried at Elohim City. This article is one of very few mainstream media pieces to mention German national Andreas Strassmeir, who served as chief of security at Elohim City and was the subject of an ATF undercover investigation, among other things.
In June of 1995, the FBI denied the existence of John Doe #2, asserting that the witnesses all must be wrong. The FBI put forward a theory saying that the witnesses from Elliott’s Body Shop—where the bomb truck was rented—were mistaken about the second suspect and confused him with an Army private who had visited the shop on April 18, the day after McVeigh did.
The problem with that theory, however, is that Eldon Elliott wasn’t at work on April 18 and he remembers seeing McVeigh with another person. This report reveals that federal prosecutors didn’t believe the FBI’s story about Bunting, and that John Doe #2 was still considered to be a suspect. Quoting prosecutor Joseph Hartzler, the piece cites a memo written to defense attorneys which says “the existence and identity of this John Doe II, whom we are confident is not Mr. Bunting, is the subject of a continuing investigation.”
British journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard interviewed German national Andreas Strassmeir, who in April of 1995 was serving as “chief of security” at the Elohim City white separatist compound. While Strassmeir denied knowing anything about the bombing, controversial comments he made to Evans-Pritchard seemed to indicate otherwise. Here, Strassmeir is quoted saying “the right-wing in the US is incredibly easy to penetrate if you know how to talk to them. Of course it’s easier for a foreigner with an accent; nobody would ever suspect a German of working for the federal government.” He also suggested that the bombing was some sort of sting operation, which had been penetrated by a government informant: “the ATF had an informant inside this operation. They had advance warning and they bungled it. What they should have done is make an arrest while the bomb was still being made instead of waiting till the last moment for a publicity stunt.” Asked if he thought the alleged informant would ever speak out, Strassmeir replied: “How can he? What happens if it was a sting operation from the very beginning? What happens if it comes out that the plant was a provocateur? What then? The relatives of the victims are going to go crazy, and he’s going to be held responsible for the murder of 168 people? Of course the informant can’t come forward. He’s scared stiff right now.”
This explosive report was followed-up on by J.D. Cash of the McCurtain Gazette, in a May 28, 1996 piece here.
The U.S. media was largely silent on the issue, though a piece did appear in the rural Tennessee newspaper The Tennessean, here.
This short piece details how prosecutors in Timothy McVeigh’s trial decided not to present any eyewitnesses who could place the defendant, Timothy McVeigh, at the scene of the crime.
The FBI had over two dozen witnesses who saw McVeigh in downtown Oklahoma City on the morning of the bombing. One of those witnesses, Mike Moroz, picked McVeigh out of a lineup of people at the FBI’s Oklahoma City command post in the days after the bombing. The most notable thing about these eyewitnesses is that every one of them saw McVeigh with another person. Were no witnesses called to testify because they would have testified that McVeigh wasn’t alone?
Kevin Flynn, and Lou Kilzer. ‘John Doe 2 Remains A Mystery.’ Rocky Mountain News, 3 Mar. 1997.
This piece details numerous John Doe #2 witnesses. Of note is witness Kyle Hunt, an Oklahoma City bank executive who passed a Ryder truck and a Mercury Marquis in traffic as he drove to a meeting in downtown Oklahoma City. Hunt “told the FBI he is certain the car’s driver was McVeigh and that there were two other men in the car.” At least one person had to have been in the truck, making a total of four people. Read Kyle Hunt’s FBI 302 report [here]. Hunt also testified before a grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing in 1997.
A number of reports were published in early March 1997 which linked another suspect to the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. These reports center around a man who went by the name “Robert Jacquez.” Jacquez was spotted with Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in the fall of 1994, seeking to buy property in the Missouri Ozarks. The man was talked to three witnesses, real estate broker Bill Maloney, his coworker Joe Davidson, and the real estate firm’s secretary. The FBI continued to investigate the man known as “Jacquez” for up to 5 years, never making an identification. Click here to view a sketch of the suspect from the FBI investigation.
Additional reports from March of 1997 on this suspect: CNN, AP, TIME.
This report concerns witness Rodney Johnson. Johnson drove a food delivery truck and on his route drove past the Murrah building every day around 9:00 AM. On the morning of the bombing, Johnson had to slam on the brakes as two pedestrians crossed the street in front of his vehicle, with Johnson getting a good look at both men. Johnson described what he saw to the FBI on the night of the bombing, and described the two men he saw before the FBI sketches were released. He later testified before the 1997 grand jury empanelled to investigate the bombing. Read Johnson’s 302 report here.
In mid-January 1998 a number of reports appeared which linked Timothy McVeigh with white supremacists Cheyne and Chevie Kehoe. The Kehoe brothers were on trial, and the manager of The Shadows Motel & RV Park said that McVeigh had visited Kehoe at the motel. Additionally, the motel manager said that on the morning of the bombing, Chevie Kehoe came into the office about 45 minutes before the blast and asked the manager to turn the TV on and put it on the news. When news of the bombing came on, according to the manager, Kehoe began celebrating, saying “it’s about time.” The manager said that “days before that, he had mentioned to me that there’s going to be something happening on the 19 and it’s going to wake people up.”
Many additional reports on Kehoe surfaced that week. Just a few of these reports can be found here, here, and here.
According to this Rocky Mountain News piece by Kevin Flynn, more than 43,000 “lead sheets” and documents were never turned over to the Nichols defense team during his federal trial.
Among these thousands of pages of documents are FBI reports concerning John Doe #2, other suspects, and other vehicles. These reports were written by the FBI during their investigation and should have been provided to the defense team but were withheld.
Just a week after it was first reported that thousands of pages of documents had been withheld from the McVeigh defense team, the Los Angeles Times reports that additional materials had been found that were not turned over.
Many of these documents relate to a suspect known as Robert Jacquez, and consist of 302 reports, lead sheets, and other documents generated during the investigation. Just three days prior to this piece, Fox News reported that many of the withheld documents “pertain to John Doe #2, a suspect who was never identified.”
This report is about a specific FBI document written in early May 1995. That document, written by San Francisco based FBI agent Thomas Ravenelle, says that “the Oklahoma command post has directed all offices to hold Unsub No 2 leads in abeyance.” That is to say, the command post has directed all offices to stop investigating John Doe #2 leads. Less than a month after the bombing, the FBI appears to have halted it’s search for the second suspect, long before announcing that the man “doesn’t’ exist.” Why did the FBI take this action? Is it because they did find out who John Doe #2 was, and like Andreas Strassmeir said, he was an informant? To view the document cited in this piece click here.
There are many more news reports that feature key details concerning the bombing and it would be difficult to cover all of them here, though an effort has been made to highlight reports that have details that are exceptionally noteworthy.
In addition to these reports, it’s strongly recommended that people read all of the reports written by J.D. Cash, published by the McCurtain Gazette. You can find most of those stories at the Libertarian Institute’s archive here.
Richard Booth is an independent researcher who has spent over five years investigating the Oklahoma City bombing. His entire archive is now available exclusively at the Libertarian Institute.
Saturday, April 8th, 1995, Timothy McVeigh and two other men paid a visit to a Tulsa strip club called Lady Godiva’s. The three men were reportedly there for several hours, from around 8 or 9 until around midnight.
The club’s owners were Floyd Radcliffe and his wife, Julie. They had an audio/video security system in the dancer’s prep room and the surveillance system captured a cocktail waitress, Tara, talking to a dancer about her encounter with Timothy McVeigh that very night.
On video, Tara can be overheard telling the dancer all about it:
“One of them said, ‘I’m a very smart man.’ I said’ You are?’ and he goes ‘Yes, I am. And on April 19, 1995, you’ll remember me for the rest of your life!’ I said ‘Oh really?’ and he says ‘Yes, you will.’
Owner Floyd Radcliffe, upon discovering the footage, phoned the FBI who showed up a week or two later and confiscated the film. Oklahoma investigative reporter J.D. Cash had begun his investigation of the event before the FBI arrived. Cash made a copy of the security tape before the FBI got it, knowing that once the FBI got their hands on it, it would probably disappear.
Cash provided the tape to Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news program ‘The Fifth Estate,’ and together they carried out an investigation, interviewing staff at at the club.
The dancers identified Timothy McVeigh from a photo spread as the tallest of the three men, the one who boasted to the cocktail waitress about April 19th.
One of the other men with McVeigh was identified from a photo spread as Andreas Strassmeir. Strassmeir was described as quiet, but easily identifiable due to his buck teeth and German accent. Owner Julie Radcliffe told journalist Jon Ronson that all “the girls identified Strassmeir. They all did identify that gentleman.” Strassmeir has denied he was ever at the club, but the witnesses are certain of it: after all, it isn’t every day in Tulsa, Oklahoma that a stripper talks to a man with a German accent. One could say that’s a rarity, and something that might stand out in ones’ memory.
Likewise, the other man with McVeigh was also identified. He was described as the man paying for the drinks that night, flashing a wad of $100 bills and talking a lot to the girls. That man, described as 5’8 – 5’9, 170-180 pounds, muscular, dark hair, brown eyes, tan complexion, in many ways fit the description of the FBI’s ‘John Doe #2’ suspect. One dancer, stage name ‘Cassie’, told Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson that the man looked like the John Doe #2 sketch. Upon seeing the sketch she said “I recognize him; he’s the one who was sitting in a back booth, talking with other girls.” He too was identified out of a photo spread, described by the dancers as “very good looking, but full of himself.” The dancers all picked out a photograph of Michael Brescia, identifying him as the third man, the one who did the most talking.
At the time, Brescia was Andreas Strassmeir’s roommate and a member of a domestic terrorist organization called ‘The Aryan Republican Army’ which had enriched themselves through a spree of 22 midwestern bank robberies from 1994 to 1996–perhaps explaining the unemployed Brescia’s wad of $100 bills.
As of April of 1995, the FBI had not caught on to the group, and none of the members had yet to be arrested for the series of bank robberies that they carried out across the midwest. These robberies were later cited by law enforcement sources in news reports as having possibly financed the April 19th, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. What’s more, an FBI document unearthed later described the domestic terrorist group, to which Brescia belonged, in interesting terms: the gang was referred to by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates.‘
What’s more, Dale Culpepper, the club’s bouncer, remembers spotting a faded older model Ryder truck in the parking lot with its logo painted over. This was before McVeigh had rented the ‘bomb truck’ (on April 17th) but it aligns with other witness sightings who spotted an older, faded yellow truck at Geary Lake between the 10th and the 13th–later that very week–and again at the Dreamland motel on the 14th, 15th, and Easter Sunday the 16th — all before McVeigh rented the larger 20-foot Ryder truck from Elliott’s body shop on Monday the 17th.
Based on numerous witness sightings, it becomes apparent that more than one Ryder truck was used by the bombing’s perpetrators, although what became of the second truck isn’t clear. What is clear, is that people saw it, and it stood out. Just like the three men at the club stood out that Saturday in April.
J.D. Cash published a piece about this story on September 15th, 1996, and the CBC aired the results of their investigation on the CBC news program ‘The Fifth Estate’ in the fall of 1996. By that time, one of the dancers who had identified McVeigh had been found dead in her apartment. Dancer Shawntelle Farrens was found dead in Tulsa the week Cash had begun his investigation, her death ruled a suicide by accidental or intentional drug overdose. The other dancers and cocktail waitresses, however, had gone on record: the men seen with Timothy McVeigh that night were Andreas Strassmeir, and his roommate, Michael Brescia.
Both men would later become central figures in investigative reporters’ efforts to track down just who McVeigh’s accomplices might have been. This encounter, just over a week before the bombing, fits into that puzzle and may shed light on who at least two of those accomplices were.
In the 25 years since the bombing, Andreas Strassmeir has fled the country, moving back to Germany. He’s denied knowing McVeigh, or having visited the strip club, but those denials stand in stark contrast to the memories of the witnesses at the club that night. The most Strassmeir is willing to admit is that he once met McVeigh at a gun show. As evidence of this encounter, Strassmeir produced Timothy McVeigh’s Desert Storm uniform. He bought it from McVeigh for a few bucks. The uniform still had the name-patch on it: “MCVEIGH” in bold letters across the chest pocket.
So too has Michael Brescia slipped away. He was arrested in 1997 for his role in the Aryan Republican Army bank robberies. Brescia cooperated with authorities and was given a comparatively light sentence, serving only five years in prison.
The other members of the bank robbery gang, described by the FBI as ‘McVeigh and his associates’ in an internal memorandum, weren’t so lucky. One man, Richard Guthrie, was found dead in his prison cell the day after telling reporters he was going to write a book about the gang and speak to a grand jury about it’s activities. Another member of the gang, Pete Langan, is serving a life sentence for his role in the robberies.
If anything, the encounter at Lady Godiva’s serves to illustrate a distinct link between Timothy McVeigh and some rather unsavory characters who deserve scrutiny.
Just what was Timothy McVeigh doing with Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir in April of 1995?
* Cash, J.D. “Is A Videotape From A Tulsa Topless Bar The “Smoking Gun” In Oklahoma Bombing?” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 25 September 1996. Print.
* Cash, J.D. “Canadians Air Club Film” McCurtain Daily Gazette [Idabel, OK], 23 Oct 1996. Print.
* Ronson, John. “Conspirators.” The Guardian, 4 May 2001. Web. 13 Feb 2013.
* “The Company They Keep.” The Fifth Estate. The Canadian Broadcasting Company. 22 October 1996. Television.
* Carlson, Peter. “The Shadow – Did He Ever Really Exist?” Washington Post Magazine. 23 March 1997. Print.
* Jason Van Vleet. “Terror From Within.” MGA Films, 28 August 2002. Television documentary, VHS.
* Evans-Pritchard, Ambrose. The Secret Life of Bill Clinton: The Unreported Stories. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 1997. pp 87-88
Re: Strassmeir and Brescia w/ McVeigh:
“they also picked out Michael Brescia and Andreas Strassmeir from a montage of photos” … “Brescia, they recalled, was very good looking, but full of himself. He was the one paying for the drinks and flashing hundred dollar bills.”
* Ridgeway, James. “Beyond McVeigh: What the Feds Won’t Tell You About Oklahoma City.” The Village Voice, 15 May 2001. Print
* Fritz, Sara and David Savage. “FBI Turns Focus to Unsolved Bank Heists.” LA Times, 28 April 1995. Print.
* “Sister Ties McVeigh to Bank Robbery.” Tucson Citizen, 19 July 1995. Print & Digital.
* “Separatist Admits Role in Robberies.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 21 May 1997. Print.
* “Ex-Eagle Scout Sentenced in Hate Group Bank Heists.” The Philadelphia Enquirer, 14 March 1998. Print.
* FBI memo describing the Aryan Republican Army as ‘McVeigh and his associates’: FBI Insert E-4206 04 May 1995
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63 Minutes PG-13 Matt Freeman is a Vet and the host of the Statist Quo podcast. Matt returns to the show to talk to Pete about another gun bill that is making its way through Congress, HR127. They discuss its implications, whether they believe it can be passed, and...
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On COI #75, Connor Freeman - writer at The Libertarian Institute - returns to the show to discuss the Israeli vaccination program. The program has received wide-spread praise from the US media and even Dr. Fauci. While Israel is vaccinating a lot of people, the...
On COI #74, Kyle and Will go over recent comments from the Biden administration signaling it's ready to sit down with Iran and European powers to discuss coming back into the 2015 nuclear deal. But with US officials hinting that other "regional issues" could be...
On COI #73, Joanne Leon - host of Around the Empire - returns to the show to discuss Biden's foreign policy. The mainstream media is pushing the narrative that Biden's foreign policy is radically different than Trump's. While there are some differences, like Yemen,...
On Conflicts of Interest #72, Kyle Anzalone discusses the recent attack on US troops in norther Iraq. The attack left one contractor dead and an American soldier injured. Hawks are claiming Iran was behind the attack and the US must respond. The link between Iran and...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wwqph7MwUdQ In war, State power is pushed to its ultimate, and, under the slogans of “defense” and “emergency,” it can impose a tyranny upon the public such as might be openly resisted in time of peace. War thus provides many benefits...
https://youtu.be/1ydfn5PUKbY Buy the book ***Busting Myths About the State and the Libertarian Alternative***: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1610166965?tag=lrc18-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1 LBRY / Odysee:...
https://youtu.be/oF5SaB330gQ Mankind is a mixture of good and evil, of cooperative and criminal tendencies. In my view, the anarchist society is one which maximizes the tendencies for the good and the cooperative, while it minimizes both the opportunity and the moral...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_V-1s8PolDI Libertarian content creator Drew Hancock joins me to discuss his YouTube channel and his viral video, "The Problem with Blue-Pilled Libertarians." We discuss our liberty journeys and how Drew ended up following in his dad's...
https://youtu.be/WCiXZGtT3RU With respect to Tim Pool and Luke Rudkowski, I caution their uncritical acceptance of Chinese genocide against the Uyghur Muslims and their proliferation of atrocity propaganda. Although Tim Pool and Luke Rudkowski are antiwar, their...
https://youtu.be/hKHZH3W5KOA Dutch libertarian, law student, and longtime friend and supporter of the show, Thijs van der Linde joins me to discuss the recent anti-lockdown protests and rioting in the Netherlands. We also discuss his undergraduate law school thesis...
https://youtu.be/BCg98f1pypY Michael Boldin, director of the Tenth Amendment Center and the host of the Path to Liberty Podcast joined me to discuss methods the Founding Fathers prescribed for combating both poor constitutional and blatantly unconstitutional policy....
Car from Timeline Earth joined Tommy to discuss Bitcoin and the future of separation of currency and state. After Elon Musk and Tesla announced they will be accepting Bitcoin for purchases the price skyrocketed. Is this the peak? or just the beginning?...
Tommy invited Pete to discuss his strategies moving forward in combatting the propaganda and demonization coming from the cathedral since Trump losing the election. Free Man Beyond The Wall Pete's Substack The Monopoly On Violence...
Tommy invited Scott on to discuss the policies of the Biden administration in regards to Iran and the rumors surrounding Iran's nuclear capabilities and ambitions. Buy Enough Already Donate https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/strangerencounterspodcast/scott_iran.mp3...
Erik Sawyer, formerly of the Revolution Report, joined Tommy to discuss current events, culture, and the Libertarian Party. They cover r/wallstreetbets, Doug Mackey, identity politics, the multi-front war against the cathedral, and how the culture of the LP has been...